Publication Date

Winter 1976


Law and Contemporary Problems


Although Indian water rights are of critical economic importance, the nature and scope of these rights remain unclear. The Supreme Court has addressed itself to the issue infrequently, and most commentators have limited their discussions to an exegesis of the appellate arguments rather than engage in an analysis of the broader nature and context of these rights. Reservation water rights are of a very special nature: A right to water does not necessarily include a right to the capital investment necessary to realize the economic benefit of an entitlement, and limits on the uses of the water may be at odds with the original purposes of the reservation. Because of recent and forthcoming federal legislation, state unilateral action, and judicial decisions3 on these questions, it is essential to understand how the Indians have had to bargain over their legal rights in the face of limited economic alternatives and the consequent difficulties that have been posed for implementation.



First Page



Duke University School of Law


Native American (American Indian, Indigenous American), environment, Supreme Court, Colorado, Navajo



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