In the Beginning There Was Only Water: The Blackfeet Nation


By Diana Dellinger:

In America today, there are over 660,000 American Indian and Alaska Native people who lack access to clean and reliable water sources or basic sanitation.[1]   Because of this, Native peoples and communities find themselves in a perpetual battle against poor health, unstable economies and inconsistent education for Native children.


A Trail of Tears and Polluted Waters for the Cherokee


By Michael Brunger:

During the unforgiving winter of 1838-1839, over 15,000 Cherokee Indians were forced out of their homes in the Smokey Mountains into areas of Oklahoma designated by the U.S. government (U.S. Forest Service, 2017). At the end of the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee reached their destination in Eastern Oklahoma and said, “this will do” or “Tahlequah” (more…)

Negotiating the Middle Waters: Oil and Water Among the Osage and Standing Rock Sioux


By Kevin Briceland:

The case of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma during the early nineteenth century illustrates how the expropriation and erosion of Indigenous landbases pose irrevocable threats to the sovereignty and survival of Indigenous peoples. Nearly a century after avaricious non-Osages murdered Osage tribal members over oil headrights, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation of North and South Dakota protested the dangers oil extraction and pipelines posed to the tribe’s water supply and sacred sites. (more…)

Water: The Flow of Life in Cherokee History

By Nichole Sparks:

Water is a sustaining element for the survival of the human race. For indigenous communities the struggles to obtain and possess natural resources like water have been a continuous battle throughout history. With technological advances, these struggles to possess water have changed as people are less dependent on primitive ways of obtaining water and more focused on creating clean water access and ownership for communities. The Cherokee have faced struggles with ownership and possession of water over the years; however, the Cherokee as a community have combated these struggles in key situations to help their nation and others (more…)

Taos Pueblo Reacquisition of Blue Lake

Alexandria Uhl:


The Taos Pueblo reservation is located in northern New Mexico and contains approximately 300,000 acres. Part of this land is home to a sacred site, Blue Lake, whose ownership was withheld from the Taos Pueblo people in 1906. After a sixty-four year bout with the U.S. Government, the tribe regained ownership of Blue Lake, which was a significant reclamation for the Pueblo nation. (more…)

Zuni Indian Tribe Water Settlement

Zuni Lake

James Kunkel:

One of the enduring consequences of the encounter between the people of the United States and the Indigenous population of North America has been the contest over the right to land and the resources that are present on that land.  One case is of the Zuni Indian Tribe of New Mexico, which highlights the contest and struggle between the property and cultural rights of Indigenous peoples in competition with the economic and developmental interests of newcomers from the United States.  (more…)