Stories like a River: The Character of Indian Water Rights and Authority in the Wind River and Klamath-Trinity Basins
AuthorDillon, John F.
KeywordsAmerican Indian water rights
law and literature
Western water policy
American Indian Studies
American Indian fishing rights
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe ability to decisively benefit from ample sources of freshwater represents a pivotal challenge for American Indian nations and their self-determination in the western United States. Climate change, population growth, and capitalist pressures continue to escalate demand for water in an already dry land. This project set out to listen and add practical perspective to the importance of water as reflected in various forms of stories in the context of American Indian reserved water rights. It explores dynamic confluences and divergences of worldviews that influence American Indian nations' relationships with water in the present sociopolitical context. The integral relationship between literatures, laws, and tribal sovereignty constructs this study's theoretical framework as it broadens scholarship on this connection to include the implications of water rights. This approach leads to a critical, or perhaps "literary critical," background for examining two major water rights struggles in the western United States; the first being court decisions on the Wind River Indian Reservation, home of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes, and secondly, the Klamath-Trinity Basin, where four federally recognized tribes recently partook in water rights settlement negotiations. Litigation and negotiations over vital water are presently limited to the minefield of ambiguous Western narratives on the values and uses of Indian water rights. While each conflict has its unique circumstances and personalities, EuroAmerican stories of control and superiority continue to justify the exploitation of water and subjugation of Indigenous human rights. Alternative forums might make room for restorying and more sustainably managing water.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
American Indian Studies