WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the United States has no obligation to provide water for the Navajo Nation under the 1868 treaty between the U.S. and the Tribe.
The opinion was a 5-4 vote, with Justices Gorsuch, Sotomayor, Kagan and Jackson dissenting.
According to the SCOTUS opinion delivered by Justice Kavanaugh,
“the historical record does not suggest that the United States agreed to undertake affirmative efforts to secure water for the Navajos—any more than the United States agreed to farm land, mine minerals, harvest timber, build roads, or construct bridges on the reservation. The record of the treaty negotiations makes no mention of any water-related obligations of the United States at all.”
SCOTUS found that the Tribe had not pointed to a source of legally enforceable duties to support it’s claim that the U.S. was required to provide it with access to water.