LAS VEGAS- Leaders from the Cocopah and Colorado River Indian Tribes in Yuma and La Paz counties met last week with water leaders from the seven states along the Colorado River for an annual water conference here.
Native American tribal leaders attended the Colorado River Water Users Association conference and spoke on opportunities and challenges for tribal communities.
“The Colorado River Indian Tribe was blessed with senior water rights on the river so what our purpose is in this is to offer whatever help or assistance we can to the state of Arizona because we all live together in this area," said Keith Moses, vice chairman for the tribe in La Paz County in western Arizona. "Everything that we do affects each one of us be it our tribe or those around us.”
Moses said his community is working with people including farmers in the Yuma area to mitigate any impact of water cutbacks.
During a session at a Caesar's Palace ballroom, leaders from the Jicarilla Apache and Navajo nations and the Cocopah and Fort Mojave Indian tribes applauded the long awaited release of a tribal water report.
"The tribal study has come to fruition and it will be a resource to learn about the tribes' diversity, tribal water rights and what we plan to do in order to be a good community partner and help with the drought contingency plan when that comes into play," said Rosa Long, a councilwoman for the Cocopah.
The Ten Tribes Partnership, which took part in the Las Vegas conference, was formed in 1992 by 10 federally recognized tribes with federal Indian reserved water rights in the Colorado River or its tributaries. Among these tribes are the Ute Indian Tribe and the Quechan Indian Tribe in southwestern Arizona.
A final deal will require federal legislation and approval by Arizona’s legislature before it can be put in action.