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The Colorado River Compact (1922) and the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact (1948) do not affect obligations to Native American interests. Article VII and Article XIX, respectively, of the 1922 and 1948 compacts provide that: Nothing in this compact shall be construed as affecting the obligations of the United States of America to Indian Tribes. The Colorado River Storage Project Act of 1956, the Colorado River Basin Project Act of 1968, and the associated Criteria for Coordinated Long-Range Operation of Colorado River Reservoirs (Long-Range Operating Criteria) did not alter these compact provisions.
There are 29 indian tribes within the Colorado River Basin with vested water rights of slighty more than 2,900,000 acre-feet. Only fifteen tribes are recognized by the federal government. Ten of the Colorado River tribes are organized as a coalition called the Ten Tribe Partnership and advocate for a greater tribal voice in management of the Colorado River Basin.
The tribes hold senior water rights due to a legal decision made in 1908 called the Winters Doctrine, or sometimes called the Federal Reserved Rights Doctrine. The priority date for such water rights are typically based on when the reservation was established, which usually pre-dates all other water rights by the dominant hydrosociety. Many tribes have quantified their water rights, somtimes through litigation or settlement, and others hold claims to water that have yet to be quantified and perfected. Here are links to learn about the tribes on the Colorado.
BANDS OF THE SOUTHERN PAIUTE NATIONS (NUWUVI)
BANDS IN CALIFORNIA (receive water deliveries from Colorado River)
Diversity Outreach Programs
INDIGENOUS WATER JUSTICE & ETHICS
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