Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

A southern Arizona tribe has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Trump administration for a yearslong failure to comply with a water settlement.

The Gila River Indian Community filed a $225 million suit on Friday in federal claims court, accusing the federal government of not properly investing funds set aside for the Lower Colorado River Basin Development Fund under the Arizona Water Settlement Act of 2004.

The tribe accused the federal government of not complying with the act from 2005 to 2017.

“The United States failed to properly invest the fund, or did not invest the fund at all, and violated its duty under AWSA,” read the news release. “As a result, the value of the fund decreased by $225 million.”

In 2017, the tribe began a discussion with the Trump administration and entered into negotiations that haven’t materialized, according to the news release.

In a statement, Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said the “current administration wasn’t really serious about fixing the problem and strung us along and now our only option is to sue. I am hopeful that the new administration will be more receptive to fixing this problem that the United States created.”

An after-hours request for comment sent to the White House was not returned.

On Dec. 10 of each year, Gila River celebrates Water Rights Day to commemorate the signing of the Arizona Water Settlement Act by President George W. Bush.

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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