The Support of Mothers

As we reflect on this past Mother’s Day, we at the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) are reminded of the profound impact that mothers have on the environmental justice movement. Throughout history, mothers have stood at the forefront of the fight for healthier communities, advocating for clean air, safe water, and toxic-free environments for their children. Their unwavering commitment and passion have driven significant changes, inspiring us all to continue the work towards a more just and sustainable world. At CHEJ, we honor these incredible women and their tireless efforts to protect the health and well-being of future generations.

Today, we ask for your support to help us continue this vital work. By becoming a recurring donor, you can join us in empowering communities, advocating for stronger environmental policies, and holding polluters accountable. Your sustained contributions will enable us to provide the necessary resources and support to those on the front lines of the environmental justice movement. Together, we can amplify the voices of mothers and families who are fighting for a safer and healthier future. Your monthly gift will make a significant difference in our ability to respond swiftly to emerging threats and to sustain long-term campaigns for environmental justice.

Your commitment to recurring giving ensures that CHEJ can maintain a steady and reliable foundation to continue our mission. Please consider setting up a monthly donation today. Every dollar you contribute helps us protect vulnerable communities and advance the cause of environmental justice. With your ongoing support, we can create a legacy of health, safety, and justice for all. Thank you for standing with us and honoring the mothers who inspire this crucial work.

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SCOTUS Restricts Water Rights for Navajo Nation

Photo credit: Leah Hogsten \ The Salt Lake Tribune

By Hunter Marion

On June 22nd, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. Navajo Nation (2023) that the United States was not responsible for securing access to clean, fresh water for the Diné people. This is yet another blatant attack on citizens’ rights to clean water, such as what happened in Sackett v. EPA (2023), and another harmful decision in a string of highly controversial rulings this last month.

The argument at the heart of the case was whether an 1868 treaty signed between the Navajo Nation and the U.S. government included providing the Diné with direct, reliable access to the Colorado River watershed. The treaty specified that the Nation would be given sufficient resources that allowed for suitable agriculture in their “new, permanent home.” The Diné rightly assumed that this would include infrastructure that accessed the river’s water.

The Navajo Nation has rights to ~700,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Colorado River. However, it does not have the infrastructure necessary to access their owed amount of water. This leaves about 40% of all Diné households without water. To put this into perspective, 99.2% of the entire U.S. population has continuous access to potable drinking water, whereas only 48% of the U.S. Indigenous populace has such access. For the 82 gallons of water accessed by the average non-Indigenous U.S. citizen per day, an average Indigenous citizen accesses only 7 gallons. Global warming has also decimated water levels in the Southwest region, particularly exacerbating tribal nations’ already limited water access.

By voiding any responsibility of the U.S. government to build water infrastructure in the Nation in this ruling, the U.S. has once again broken another contract between the Nation. The ruling also perpetuates the centuries-long discrimination that disproportionately exposes Indigenous peoples to environmental contaminants, radiation, extractive and polluting enterprises on tribal lands, and denies them continuous access to health,  education, and clean water.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, although disappointed, “remain[ed] undeterred” and vouched that he will continue fighting to “represent and protect the Navajo people, [their] land, and [their] future.” The Native American Rights Fund also voiced that they “will continue to assert their water rights” despite the Court’s ruling.