Set Aside or Ignored

UW Law professor Monte Mills on the amicus brief supporting tribal reserved water rights in the U.S. Supreme Court case Arizona v. Navajo Nation.

On March 20, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Arizona v. Navajo Nation, a case in which UW Law professor Monte Mills, director of the Native American Law Center, filed an amicus brief with other professors and the Native American Rights Fund on February 8, 2023. The brief requests that the Court acknowledge that the Winters water rights doctrine, established in 1908, enforces the fiduciary duty of the federal government to reserve adequate water, in this case the entire Colorado River, at the creation of an Indian reservation in one of the driest parts of the country.

In this episode, we discuss with Professor Monte Mills how the Winters doctrine is a foundational component to water resource management in the West and foundational to the exercise of the United States’ trust duties to protect and secure tribal reserved water rights. Arizona v. Navajo Nation dwells at the intersection of Native treaty rights and water rights, and the court’s decision could have serious ramifications.

Monte Mills joined the UW Law faculty in 2022 as the Charles I. Stone Professor of Law and director of the Native American Law Center (NALC). Monte's research and writing focuses on the intersection of Federal Indian Law, Tribal sovereignty, and natural resources as well as race and racism in the law and legal education.

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