If the Choctaw and Chickasaw were to gain water rights under that old court ruling, legal experts say, it could prompt a new push for similar rights across Oklahoma, which has 39 federally recognized tribes. It could also encourage more tribes in the West to start claiming their reserved rights.
Despite the age of the Supreme Court ruling, known as the Winters doctrine, efforts to quantify tribes’ water rights proceeded at a crawl until the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, about three dozen Indian claims have been tabulated, mostly though drawn-out settlements. Today the Interior Department is presiding over water negotiations with 18 tribes.
Choctaw, Chickasaw Indians Fight for Sardis Lake
Posted on April 11, 2011
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