Tanana speaks to national media about SCOTUS cases

Mar 22, 2023 | Faculty

Research Assistant Professor Heather Tanana, a renowned expert on Indian law and water law, spoke to national media outlets this week about Arizona v. Navajo Nation and Dep’t of Interior v. Navajo Nation, two landmark cases argued before the Supreme Court on Monday, March 20. Tanana was also part of a group of experts who filed an amicus brief in the case, which was referenced during oral arguments before the Court. Portrait of Heather Tanana

Media Appearances

The Supreme Court will hear a 20-year-old case on giving the Navajo Nation access to a water source
NPR Weekend Edition

Supreme Court hears case on Navajo Nation water rights

Supreme Court case could reshape Indigenous water rights in the Southwest
Civil Eats

Supreme Court hears Navajo water rights case
Spectrum News 1

Amicus Brief

Tanana and Research Associate Beth Parker, both part of the Wallace Stegner Center’s Law & Policy Program, were among a small group of experts that filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States in the consolidated cases of Arizona v. Navajo Nation (No. 21-1484) and Dep’t of Interior v. Navajo Nation (No. 22-51). The amicus brief was filed on behalf of DigDeep Right to Water Project and Utah Tribal Relief Foundation in support of the Respondent, the Navajo Nation.

Tanana and Parker collaborated with the University of Minnesota Law School’s Civil Rights Appellate Clinic and three other experts—Elizabeth G. Bentley, Clifford Parkinson and Frannie Monasterio—to draft and file the amicus brief, which urged the Court to affirm the judgment of the Ninth Circuit and ensure fulfillment of the United States’ trust obligation to the Navajo Nation “to provide access to clean and safe water that would allow the Navajo Nation to thrive on its permanent homeland.” The brief examined the pervasiveness of water insecurity and poor water quality on the Navajo Nation and the resulting hardships, including health disparities and economic costs.

Established in 2012, the Stegner Center’s Law & Policy Program provides objective and actionable research on contemporary issues affecting public lands, agency decision making, indigenous peoples, resource management, and climate change. Working with a wide range of stakeholders, we focus on issues where our analysis can support development of wise policies and thoughtful decisions.

Read more about the amicus brief and the cases on our Law & Policy Program blog.