The San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe has achieved a monumental feat today by passing a historic resolution approving the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement secures the future of the Tribe's land and water rights 2. The Settlement, which carries a price tag larger than any other such agreement enacted by Congress, represents a significant step forward for the Tribe and its members.

The San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, along with the Navajo and Hopi tribes, has been engaged in settlement talks to address their water rights claims in the Colorado River basin 2. These discussions were primarily prompted by the impact of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, and the increasing demands on the river, leading the tribes to seek a resolution that ensures their access to water 2. The proposed settlement aims to provide water from various sources, including the Colorado River, the Little Colorado River, aquifers, and washes on tribal lands in northeastern Arizona 2.

Key Features of the Settlement

  • The Settlement involves a cost exceeding $5 billion, with a significant portion allocated for the construction of a pipeline from Lake Powell to deliver water to remote tribal communities 2.
  • The Settlement will ratify the treaty signed by then President Johnny Lehi Sr. in 2000, establishing an exclusive reservation for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe 2.
  • President Robbin Preston Jr., emphasized that the Settlement will not only secure water deliveries but also create unprecedented economic opportunities for Tribal members, instilling hope and pride within the community 2.

Importance and Implications

The successful resolution of the water rights issue holds immense significance for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe and the wider tribal community 2. Without a settlement, the tribes would have been left vulnerable to the decisions of the courts, potentially undermining their access to water 2. Furthermore, the resolution is expected to address the pressing issue of water scarcity, particularly in areas where a significant number of homes lack access to running water 2.

Most impactful for the Tribe will be the establishment of the San Juan Southern Paiute Reservation. A homeland for the Paiute people in the same territory the Paiutes have lived for centuries.

How the Families work together for the Future of the Tribe

Former President, now Vice President Johnny Lehi Jr. has made significant strides in laying the groundwork for the achievements and initiatives undertaken by President Robbin Preston Jr. His leadership and dedication have set the stage for the progress seen in the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, particularly in advancing their water rights and tribal development. Here are specific examples and achievements that highlight how former President Johnny Lehi Jr. paved the way for President Robbin Preston: More Info

Former President Johnny Lehi Jr.'s vision, dedication, and efforts have significantly contributed to the groundwork and aspirations that President Robbin Preston Jr. is building upon, furthering the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe's development and securing its water rights 1.

Path Forward

The settlement still requires several approvals, culminating in Congress, before it can be finalized 2. However, the progress made so far signals a positive trajectory for the tribes involved, particularly under the support of a Democratic administration in Arizona and President Joe Biden 2.

President Robbin Preston Jr.'s leadership has been pivotal in advancing this historic resolution, reflecting his dedication to securing a sustainable future for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe 1.

In conclusion, the signing of this resolution marks a significant milestone for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, representing a crucial step towards securing their water rights and fostering economic opportunities for tribal members. President Robbin Preston Jr.'s commitment to this cause underscores his unwavering dedication to the welfare and prosperity of his tribe [1,2].

The Tribe would like to thank Attorney, Julia Kolsrud and her team at May, Potenza, Baran and Gillespie. Ms. Kolsrud’s  involvement and contributions have been integral to the successful progression of the settlement negotiations, underscoring her significance in shaping the future of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe's land and water rights 2.

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