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What We Do

WTI facilitates several projects to achieve two objectives: (1) enhance tribal capacity to manage water resources and to engage in water policy discussions; and (2) promote sustainable water use through collaborative problem-solving. WTI relies on several partners to support and contribute to each project.

Capacity Building Initiative

One of WTI’s two objectives is to “enhance the capacity of Tribes to manage water resources and to engage in water policy discussions.” To address this objective, WTI and several partners have come together to develop an integrated portfolio of programs and services. Many of these initiatives emerged from the first-ever baseline assessment of tribal capacity in the Colorado River Basin, and are largely driven by Tribal input and advice.

For more information on resources to enhance tribal capacity, see the following:

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Tribal Capacity Building Initiative
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Colorado River Basin Tribal Coalition

Several tribal leaders have come together to create the Colorado River Basin Tribal Coalition (initially named the Tribal Leaders Forum). The intent, as explained in the letter launching the Coalition, is to (1) create a place where leaders from all 30 sovereign tribes in the basin can come together, exchange information, and build consensus on shared interests; and (2) advance a whole-basin approach to water management in the Colorado River system. The Coalition operates as an ad hoc association of tribal leaders. All 30 tribes are invited to participate and contribute to the shared efforts. The Coalition is guided by a Leadership Team and an Advisory Team, and is facilitated by the Water & Tribes Initiative. See additional materials on the Resources Page.

Colorado River Basin Tribal Coalition
Upper Basin Dialogue

Upper Basin Dialogue

Six federally recognized Tribes and ten conservation groups working in the Upper Basin of the Colorado River have come together to engage in ongoing dialogue around shared interests. The intent of this dialogue, co-facilitated by the Water & Tribes Initiative and the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign, is to create a forum for Tribes and conservation groups in the Upper Basin to work together on issues of common concern and advance shared priorities.

Dialogue participants have created a Shared Vision for the Upper Basin of the Colorado River Basin, representing the commitment of Tribes and conservation groups in the Upper Basin to identify joint interests and work together for the Colorado River Basin.

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Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribal Communities
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Universal Access To Clean Water for Tribal Communities

Forty-eight percent of Tribal homes in the United States do not have access to reliable water sources, clean drinking water, or basic sanitation. Over the last century, the U.S. federal government’s investment in modern water and sanitation systems largely bypassed Native communities. The Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribal Communities initiative seeks to close that gap by educating the public about this disparity in access to clean water, providing needed tools to Tribes for accessing available resources, and advocating for appropriate funding and governmental support for clean water infrastructure. This initiative was launched by WTI in 2020 and is staffed by a small group of committed water professionals, passionate in their quest for equity and a basic level of service and quality of life for Native Americans.

Indigenous Women’s Leadership Network

Indigenous Women's Leadership Network

The Indigenous Women’s Leadership Network (IWLN) is a new initiative catalyzed by the Water & Tribes Initiative. One of the core values of the IWLN is the important role that women play in tribal communities. The intent is to connect and support Native women working in the areas of water, natural resources, and the broader environment within the Colorado River Basin. IWLN seeks to engage past, present, and future Native women leaders – to learn from each other, mentor one another, and support each other. Several Native women have stepped forward to establish this unique network. Nora McDowell (Fort Mojave), Lorelei Cloud (Southern Ute), and Crystal Tulley-Cordova (Navajo Nation) serve as the founding co-chairs. And Heather Tanana (Navajo Nation), a research professor at the University of Utah, is coordinating the IWLN.

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Basin-wide Gatherings
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Basin-Wide Gatherings

WTI works with several partners to convene at least two basin-wide gatherings each year. The gatherings are designed to bring together Tribal and other leaders in the basin, exchange ideas and information, enhance relationships, and explore solutions to shared problems. A representative sample -- including agendas, participants, meeting summaries, videos, and other materials – are available below.

Outreach and Education

WTI staff and Leadership Team members regularly speak at conferences and workshops; conduct interviews with the media; serve on advisory panels, boards, and professional associations; and publish research and case studies.

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Outreach and Education
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