WSDP/OxFam Present 2 Events - Las Vegas/Seattle - Utes Want San Juan Water - Part 1
On Monday, October 8 (Indigenous Peoples Day/Columbus Day) the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Oxfam America present a discussion about mining and indigenous people’s rights with Shoshone elder Carrie Dann and representatives of the Las Vegas and Moapa Paiute, and the screening of the documentary “Our Land, Our Life” on the University of Nevada at Las Vegas campus in A 112 room of Classroom Building Complex (CBC) building from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
The American Indian Alliance, the Native American Student Association, the UNLV Anthropology Society and the UNLV Young Democrats are co-sponsoring the event, which will be an opportunity for the UNLV and Las Vegas community to join a global discussion about the expansion of natural resource development into the communities of indigenous peoples.
On Wednesday, October 10 the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Oxfam America present a discussion about mining and indigenous people’s rights with Shoshone elder Carrie Dann and the screening of the documentary “Our Land, Our Life” on the Seattle University campus in Bannan 402 at the corner of 11th Ave. and Columbia St. from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. (Parking is available at 12th Ave. and E. Marion St.)
The Seattle University Oxfam America Club is sponsoring the event, which will be an opportunity for the Seattle University and broader Seattle community to join a global discussion about the expansion of natural resource development into the communities of indigenous peoples.
The documentary “Our Life, Our Land” follows sisters and Shoshone elders Mary and Carrie Dann through their decades-long struggle to defend Western Shoshone lands from encroachment by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the mining industry.
The film also addresses the sacred relationship between the Western Shoshone and the more than sixty million acres of land in the western U.S. where they have ranched and worshiped for hundreds of years. To see the movie online and learn how you can help communities defend their right to self-determination please visit www.oxfamamerica.org/shoshone.
The Western Shoshone Defense Project (WSDP) is an affiliate of the Seventh Generation Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining the uniqueness of Native Peoples and Nations. The WSDP works with Western Shoshone communities and individuals, as well as regional, national and international environmental and indigenous rights organizations to defend Western Shoshone land rights and homelands, in a land base covering 60 million acres in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and California.
Since it was created in 1992, the WSDP has developed the capacity to respond to ever increasing threats to the legal, environmental, cultural and spiritual health and well being of the Western Shoshone Nation. Contact info: Western Shoshone Defense Project P.O. Box 211308, Crescent Valley, NV 89821, (775) 468-0230, http://www.wsdp.org/, email@example.com.
Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. The organization’s Extractive Industries Program works to ensure the oil, gas, and mining industries respect the rights of community members impacted by extractive industries projects, and that projects contribute to the long-term reduction of poverty. For more information please visit http://www.oxfamamerica.org/ or contact Paul Bugala, firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 375-4145 (mobile).
Carrie Dann is a traditional Western Shoshone grandmother who lives with her extended family on their ancestral lands in Crescent Valley, Nevada. Dann has been at the forefront of the Western Shoshone Nation’s struggle for land rights and sovereignty for over forty years. As a key figure in her Nation’s political and legal battle to retain ancestral lands in Nevada, California, Idaho and Utah, Dann has squared off against multinational gold mining companies, the nuclear industry and the U.S. government.
She has been recognized by the Wonder Woman Foundation for her unwavering commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples, and was also awarded the “International Right Livelihood Award” from Sweden in 1993 for “courage and perseverance in asserting the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands.”
Dann, with the strength and guidance taught to her by her sister Mary, works relentlessly to ensure that the United States respect the rights of indigenous peoples, their culture and spirituality, and that which they hold sacred.
Utes File Claim For San Juan Water
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK The United States has filed an amended answer in the San Juan River General Stream Adjudication on behalf of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, seeking 10,950 acre-feet per year of groundwater and asserting a priority date of March 2, 1868, senior to the Navajo Nation.
The United States claims for the benefit of the Ute Mountain Utes a federal reserved right to divert and deplete from groundwater sources:
* Diversion of 470 acre-feet per year with a depletion of 141 afy for domestic purposes;
* Diversion of 610 acre-feet per year with a depletion of 61 afy for commercial purposes; and
* Diversion and depletion of 9,870 acre-feet per year for industrial purposes, including mining, hydrocarbon production, and electrical power production.
Bradley S. Bridgewater of the U.S. Department of Justice in Denver, general counsel for the United States, filed the order Sept. 28 with the 11th Judicial District Court in San Juan County.
“There was an order back in 2004 that required us to file all our claims on behalf of the Ute Mountain Utes by Oct. 1 of this year, so the document we filed is a statement of our claims on behalf of that tribe,” Bridgewater said Friday.
“There were also claims for all of the surveyed existing uses on the reservation,” he said.
Based on livestock carrying capacity estimates derived from information published by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and the historic grazing practices of the tribe, the United States has claimed for the tribe the right to divert and deplete 27 acre feet per year for livestock watering.
Maps included as part of the filing indicate a resort, golf and residential housing complex in the Coalbank Canyon area and a coal and/or gas power plant near Farmington. A feasibility study for a power plant project was completed in 2004.
“We have hired consultants to develop plans for those types of water uses on the reservation,” Bridgewater said, adding that the tribe has talked witha number of people in the industry.
“You have to understand this is a litigation, a reserved rights claim which, by its nature, necessarily contemplates things that are not yet in existence,” he said.
Stanley Pollack, water rights attorney for the Navajo Nation, said Friday that he does not yet know how the Ute Mountain Ute claim might impact Navajo and its settlement of water rights in the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico.
“What they are claiming is approximately 10,000 acre feet of water fromthe river. But we haven't adjudicated it yet. I know the state doesn't believe there's much basis for it, so we'll just have to take a look at it, he said.
Pollack said there also are uncertainties regarding the amended Ute Mountain Ute priority date of March 2, 1868, the date of the treaty betwee the United States and the Ute tribes.
“There are challenges to their claim. Our treaty date is June 1, 1868. Their treaty date is March 1868. So theoretically, they have a senior right. But no court has ever really taken up the issue of what happens when you have two tribes on a river with basically adjacent reservations whether the prior appropriation doctrine applies.
“Under state law, a water right is perfected when you put it to beneficial use. Under federal law, what Winters v. United States says is the water rights are perfected when the reservations are created.
“So in this instance, one of the questions that arises about the creation of their reservation is their treaty was in 1868 but their treaty was for lands in Colorado. The New Mexico portion of the reservation was added in 1895. So that makes it junior to Navajo. It makes it junior to Jicarilla, too,” Pollack said.
“They're going to have an uphill battle,” he added. Pete Ortego, general counsel with the Ute Mountain Ute’s in Towaoc, Colo., said the tribe basically is arguing what is known in Colorado water law as its “augmentation right”.
“Augmentation basically means that water seeps into our land and then eventually seeps all the way through the ground and makes its way over to the river and ends up in the river. So our claim is based a great deal on the augmentation,” he said.
“One of the ways that we determine how much water someone is entitled to in the San Juan River has a lot to do with how much water leaves their land and goes into the river.
“We did some studies the federal government, actually into just what kind of water resources we have that could be leaving our reservation and ending up in the river. The theory is if water from your land is going into the river, then you have the right at some point, maybe, to be able to take it out.
“Of course the judge is ultimately going to have to decide the strength of anybody's case, including the tribe, but basically we are arguing that we have an augmentation right,” Ortego said.
Attorney Daniel Israel of Boulder, Colo., who also represents the Ute Mountain Utes on water rights cases, said that while the United States has made a reserved water right claim, or Winters claim, that looks to aquifer water on the reservation, and the tribe has made a separate claim.
“The tribe's claim looks to San Juan surface water, which is located 7 miles from the reservation. Both claims justify the water on the basis of a hypothetical power generating project, an electric generating plant,” he said.
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