The UA Water Resources Research Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences promotes the understanding of state and regional water management and policy issues through research, community outreach, engagement and public education.
The UA Water Resources Research Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences promotes the understanding of state and regional water management and policy issues through research, community outreach, engagement and public education.

Water Conference to Focus on Indigenous Perspectives

The UA Water Resources Research Center is hosting its "Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainable Water Practices" next week in partnership with the Gila River Indian Community.
June 3, 2015
Extra Info: 

To learn more about the Water Resources Research Center program, sponsors and keynote speakers, visit the conference website.

 

What can be learned from the indigenous perspectives on water? And how can this knowledge be used to improve water management?

The University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center will host a conference on "Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainable Water Practices" on Tuesday and Wednesday to explore those questions.

The conference, hosted in partnership with the Gila River Indian Community, will reflect the unique place of water in tribal life. Conference attendees will explore water stewardship challenges and achievements, indigenous traditions in caring for agricultural lands and riparian areas, and tribal youth engagement.

Talks and panel sessions will feature water law, water rights, groundwater and water settlements, and a vision for the future. Presenters include representatives from Arizona tribes, the UA, Northern Arizona University, governmental agencies and the Arizona Legislature.

The conference is open to all who are interested in sustainable water practices, tribal water rights and cultural perspectives, and who also are interested in exploring opportunities for future water management in Arizona and beyond.

"This conference will provide the Arizona water community a unique occasion to gain insight into indigenous water management concerns and practices," said Sharon Megdal, director of the Water Resources Research Center.

The conference will include a half-day program Tuesday and a full-day program Wednesday at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, Arizona.

The complete agenda is available online.

Conference highlights include keynotes by David DeJong, author of "Forced to Abandon Our Fields"; John Echohawk, founder and executive director of the Native American Rights Fund; Harry Walters, a Navajo historian; and Ofelia Zepeda, an American Indian poet, MacArthur Fellow and UA linguistics professor. 

A luncheon recognizing the 10th anniversary of Arizona Water Settlements Act will be held on the second day of the conference.

Panel discussions at the conference will cover a range of topics, specifically:

  • "The Nature of Tribal Water Rights." Tribal representatives will discuss the history and future of negotiating Native American water rights in Arizona.
  • "Tribal Water Successes and Challenges." Highlights will be discussed by a panel of Arizona tribal water management leaders.
  • "Spiritual and Ceremonial Views of Water." Panelists will reflect on how tribes relate to water in songs and offerings, and how water is respected in indigenous communities.
  • "Tribal Riparian Restoration Success Stories." Arizona tribes have a long history of restoring native riparian areas. Tribal representatives will discuss current efforts in riparian restoration.
  • "Arizona Groundwater, a Precious Resource." Tribal water professionals will discuss management decisions related to groundwater and diversifying water portfolios with groundwater recharge.
  • "The Next Generation of Tribal Water Use: Our Youth Represent the Future." Discussion will highlight current tribal programs developed to engage youth in traditional agricultural practices.
  • "Learning From the Past, Looking to the Future." Panelists will discuss how past lessons can be applied to successfully manage water supplies within and beyond Arizona.

Online registration is open; student rates are available.