JANUARY 6, 1908

U.S. SUPREME COURT RECOGNIZES WATER RIGHTS OF NATIVE AMERICANS ON RESERVATIONS

Winters v. United States, 207 U.S. 564 (1908), was a United States Supreme Court case clarifying water rights of American Indian reservations. The Court determined that the Fort Belknap reservation had reserved water rights through the 1888 agreement which created the reservation. It also reasoned that the Indians would have no use for the farmland if they could not have access to a water source.  While American Indian water rights still were neglected for decades after the ruling, the case had enormous precedential value for Native Americans when water rights cases arose starting with Arizona v. California in 1963.

Sources:  Winters v. United States, 207 U.S. 564 (1908), FindLaw.  Retrieved 6/5/2019, http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/207/564.html Barbara Cosens, “The Legacy of Winters v. United States and the Winters Doctrine, One Hundred Years Later,” presented at American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, 16th Section Fall Meeting Phoenix, AZ September 17-20, 2008.  Retrieved 6/5/2019, https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/environ/fallmeet/2008/bestpapers/Cosens.authcheckdam.pdf
Graphic:  Official Seal of U.S. Supreme Court.  Public domain.  Created by the Federal Government. Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

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