Friday, November 11, 2011

The White Man's Viewpoint on Indian Water Rights

This is purely coincidence - but just after I decided to post something about Indian water settlements I came across this opinion piece recently published in the Phoenix paper.  Don't be mislead by the title referring to the "role" of Indian tribes in Arizona's water future.  This is the same role tribes have had throughout history - donors of water supplies to non-Indians.

The author notes that the story of how the Indians came to control a major portion of Arizona's Colorado River water supplies is "too complicated and lengthy to be told" in his short opinion piece, but then goes on to completely disregard the significance of that story in concluding that there has been an "unfair distribution of Arizona's Colorado River water... ."

Giving people the impression that tribes have been highly favored in the apportionment of water in this state, when in fact they have barely been compensated for the fact that over the previous 100 years the outrageous favoritism toward non-Indians in water supply management left tribes impoverished, thirsty, and unable to pursue many traditional aspects of their cultures, is clearly disingenuous if not simply dangerous.

And as I plan to lay out in my next post, even the rights that tribes have earned in their settlements may turn out to be mirages, once the full cost of that water comes to bear.  The views expressed in Mr. Zarbin's piece need to be denounced in very strong terms and the rights of tribes to their water must be protected.  When non-Indians can come to terms with that, then the tribes might be willing to become a larger part of Arizona's water future.


John Fleck said...

Wow. Thanks for pointing to that remarkably offensive opinion piece. Does Zarbin also argue anywhere that those pesky European immigrant farmers (there are so few of them!) ought to have their water more equitably shared with the newcomers as well?

Chris Brooks said...

I'm not sure what's more remarkable - the ignorance of his views or the fact that he was provided a forum to express them.