Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 26, 2005


Host: Jose Cardenas

Indian Water Rights Settlement


  • A decades long struggle to regain water that was taken from them is over. We'll look at the largest Indian water rights settlement in U.S. history and what it means not only to the Gila River Indian community, but also to valley cities and other water users.
Guests:
  • Bruce Merrill - Director, KAET-ASU Poll
  • Tara Blanc - Assistant Director, KAET-ASU Poll


View Transcript
José Cárdenas:
Tonight on "Horizon", the latest KAET-ASU Poll shows strong support for the minutemen project. Volunteers looking for illegal immigrants along the border. The poll also measured approval for President Bush's guest worker program. Bruce Merrill will join me to talk about the poll results. Plus, a decades long struggle to regain water that was taken from them is over. We'll look at the largest Indian water rights settlement in U.S. history and what it means not only to the Gila River Indian community, but also to valley cities and other water users.

>> It is an agreement that may not appear dramatic to everyday voters, but it will have a profound effect on the quality of life in the 21st century in a place we call Arizona. That's next on "Horizon".

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the friends of Channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>José Cárdenas:
Good evening, welcome to "Horizon". I'm José Cárdenas in for Michael Grant. Immigration-related issues have been at the forefront of the news and our latest KAET-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University Poll reflects some diverse opinions on the matter. We also asked voters if rising gas prices have affected their driving habits. The poll was conducted April 21st through the 24th. We surveyed 415 registered voters, and the poll has a margin of error of 4.8\%. Here are the results.

>> Reporter Mike Sauceda:
57\% of those surveyed support the minuteman project, 34\% do not. 44\% support the actions of Patrick Haab, the man accused of holding several illegal immigrants at gunpoint, 41\% do not. 62\% support President Bush's guest worker program, 29\% are against it. If the guest worker program was to allow amnesty, support drops to 54\%, with 37\% opposing such a plan. We asked voters whether businesses, which knowingly hire illegal immigrants, should be punished. 75\% said yes, 19\% said no. The price of gas has been another hot topic. 23\% of those we asked said the rising price of gas has significantly reduced the number of miles they drive. 29\% said it reduced their driving a little, while 46\% said it reduced their driving not by very much. We asked whether the federal government or the open market should determine grass prices. 37\% said the federal government should regulate prices while 48\% opted for the open market. If there are not changes in the law, by next year high school students will need to pass the AIMS test to graduate. 61\% of those surveyed said that high school students should pass the AIMS test to graduate, 32\% said they should not. Finally, Governor Napolitano got good marks in the poll. 61\% approve of the job she is doing, 27\% disapprove of her performance.

>>José Cárdenas:
Joining me now are Bruce Merrill, director of the KAET-ASU poll and Tara Blanc, assistant poll director. I understand we may have inadvertently given the Republican opponents of Governor Napolitano false hope.

>> Bruce Merrill:
We have been concerned there haven't been strong Republicans standing up to run against her. The results we sent to the press showed her support weaker. Instead of 61\%, the governor is receiving 73\% favorable and only 17\% unfavorable and 10\% undecided. She has about an 82\% favorable rating.

>>José Cárdenas:
Does that explain why the Republicans are having a hard time coming up with an opponent.

>> Bruce Merrill:
I think that's one factor, but there's others. I think it is hard to raise the money, Jose to run against the incumbent governor. It a going to depend on which candidates step forward. I think the consensus is she is going to be hard to run against.

>>José Cárdenas:
A Democratic governor who has gotten high approval rates, but there is strong support for the minuteman project which is kind of the right wing of the political spectrum, how do you explain that?

>> Bruce Merrill:
This is a continuation of what we have been seeing for some time in Arizona. There is no question that the voters are very, very concerned about illegal immigration. The economy has been tough. They feel it's hurting Arizonans, taking jobs away from them. There is no question that there is a big backlash against the issue of illegal immigration. However, I think there is also a question about how you go about doing it. And there's a lot of frustration that the federal government hasn't done anything. We haven't had much done at the state level so I think they are measuring two completely different things. One is a very, very important issue.

>>José Cárdenas:
Tara, support for the governor, strong support for the minuteman program. And then almost an equally divided opinion of Sergeant Haab who was charged with arresting undocumented immigrants. How do you explain that?

>> Tara Blanc:
I think the biggest thing is that with the minuteman project, you have people as Bruce said who are looking at problems of illegal immigration as a whole and the project I think is viewed as a deterrence. Haab was perceived as an individual taking the law in his own hands, that makes people uncomfortable with the idea that somebody would go out and there were a lot of questions about whether there was provocation. I think people were more uncomfortable with that.

>>José Cárdenas:
What does this portend for the county attorney who made a decision not to prosecute?

>> Tara Blanc:
He is going to face a lot of controversy. Again because you got a split view there is going to be a lot of controversy over if he did the right thing or not.

>>José Cárdenas:
Dr. Merrill, again, immigration, with respect to President Bush's guest worker program, pretty strong support for that.

>> Bruce Merrill:
No question. By a 2-1 margin in Arizona people want the guest worker program. I think it is a case of fairness. There are jobs that need to be filled here. People are concerned about people coming across the border illegally. But to show how strong of an issue that is, Jose, we then followed up by asking people, would you still support this, or asked everybody would you support this even if the illegal immigrants that are here were given some kind of resident state us. Still you had 59\% of the people saying yes; we would each support that. So I think what's happening is there is a recognition that we need these people but the question is how do we get them here and what's fair?

>>José Cárdenas:
Are you surprised with an amnesty provision? That seems to be a hot button topic.

>> Tara Blanc:
I don't know that I was surprised at the result. Again as Bruce said, I think that people recognize that we have jobs that are available for people who want the work and need the work. I think the real issue is again the legality of the people who are taking the jobs now. I think people support the notion that we have room for immigrants to come into this country and to work and to be here. It's a matter of playing by the rules or not playing by the rules.

>>José Cárdenas:
Some of those same people would say for precisely that reason we should not grant amnesty because you are rewarding people who have broken the rules.

>> Tara Blanc:
There's going to continue to be a lot of debate about that. I'm not sure, that's one of the those moral questions that are not easily resolved.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Whether or not they're true or whether or not they're myths, a perception becomes reality. Most people in Arizona tell us that number one, they believe illegal immigrants, and people coming across are taking jobs away from people that want them. I'm not sure that's the case. Second, they tell us they are using services like state services without paying for them. And so I think that's, those are really the things that people are concerned about. And the idea that they're not paying taxes and they're not paying into -

>>José Cárdenas:
According to a recent article in the New York Times that's not true, a significant amount of taxes and Social Security benefits going unclaimed.

>> Bruce Merrill:
That's why I suggested somebody ought to do a study and see what the truth is. I think all we know from the public opinion point of view it is an issue that has been growing in intensity in Arizona for some time. And as was suggested, on the other hand, it's a complex issue and there are dimensions of how to handle it from a legal and fairness point of view.

>>José Cárdenas:
We have about 40 seconds left. First, Tara, the gas hike prices.

>> Tara Blanc:
People have cut their driving some but probably not enough. I think gas prices are going to have to go higher before we see significant impacts.

>>José Cárdenas:
Support for federal regulation?

>> Tara Blanc:
Not as much as still leaving it to the market.

>>José Cárdenas:
Bruce, the AIMS test, we have a majority of people supporting it.

>> Bruce Merrill:
In 20 seconds, it's a complex issue, is this the right test. I think what this is measuring is accountability. I think a great deal of our income goes from Arizona goes into education. I think people want to know that we're turning out a quality product.

>>José Cárdenas:
Thank you both for joining us.

>> Tara Blanc:
Thank the volunteers for their help.

>>José Cárdenas
: It is the largest Indian water rights agreement in the history of the United States. Some 30 years after taking legal action to regain water they once used, the Gila River Indian community was awarded a significant amount of water and $400 million to build new water delivery systems. Paul Atkinson looks at the hardship created by the loss of water and the hard work to gain it back.

>> Paul Atkinson:
It's the latest investment by the Gila River Indian community. The western theme town rawhide will relocate later this year from north Scottsdale to wild horse pass south of Phoenix. It will join a new 500 room Sheraton: hotel, signature golf course and a facility that made this possible, the Wild Horse Pass Casino.

>> Richard Narcia:
The intention is to make it a destination point from, with respect to the nation and the world.

>> Paul Atkinson:
The overall goal of the Gila River Indian community is to become self-sufficient. Gambling proceeds have provided the source for the tribe to invest in moneymaking ventures. But it's another resource that could ultimately return the 20,000-member community to prosperity. Water. This is the Gila River as it exits the mountains west of Coolidge dam. It flowed for hundreds of miles eventually connecting with the Colorado River.

>> Rod Lewis:
Water is the basis, was and is the basis of our economy.

>> Rod Lewis:
We transported the water from rivers to farms and generally along the Gila River. It is the lifeblood, literally the lifeblood.

>> Reporter Paul Atkinson:
For hundreds of years Pimas and Maricopas lived on the river, using as much water as they needed. That changed in the 19th century.

>> Dana Norris:
With the influx of the European setters, in the middle of that century, we began to lose the water that is necessary to carry on the tradition of farming that we have always had throughout our history.

>> Dana Norris:
We were brought to destitution in the process and by the late 1800s, specifically 1893, there was a lot of poverty. We literally had people dying of hunger. And we never quite recovered from that.

>> Rod Lewis:
About the 1890s, maybe the 1880s, the water diversions were so great that the Gila river simply dried up-just destroying the economic stability of Pimas and Maricopas. It was just disastrous-there was simply no water available.

>> Rod Lewis:
For what once had been a very thriving group of tribes-Pimas' and Maricopas, we were desolate. Economically ruined. And recovery from those times in the late 19th century still has not been made today."

>> Paul Atkinson:
Fallow reservation land will soon have water to irrigate it. President Bush signed the Arizona Water Settlement Act December 10th, 2004. It gives the Gila River Community 653-thousand acre-feet of water a year. The community recently celebrated passage of the Act by thanking those who played a role.

>> Richard Narcia:
It's been the cumulation of decades of struggle for our people to regain in certainty the most important resource that represents in many ways our "othem hinduck"-as we say-our way of life.

>> Don Antone:
It's been a long drawn out problem or fight with our waters.

>> Paul Atkinson:
Don Antone worked for the Gila River Tribal Council almost 40 years ago when leaders decided to do something about the water they lost decades before. The former governor and others testified numerous times in Washington-but to no avail.

>> Don Antone:
"And so it's been like that for that there on because we didn't have the resources to hire the professional people to assist us-until the gaming enterprises came on board and when that happen we began to realize some income and we were able to hire professionals and technical people to assist us."

>> Paul Atkinson:
Don Pongrace is a beltway lobbyist who helped guide the settlement.

>> Don Pongrace:
It required a great deal of luck, all the hard work that went into - and frankly an understanding of the process in Washington that was sufficient to allow the luck and handwork to pay off. Without that understanding it was probably as close a political process that I've ever been involved in.

>> JD Hayworth:
There were times when it seems that the congressional calendar or any number of contentious items would derail this-and it's a credit to all the parties involved and the calm and deliberate approach that senator Kyl brought to this -that we were able to achieve this agreement.

>> Jon Kyl:
I've been involved in some complex matters-- both my legal career and in my 20 years in Congress. I have never been involved in anything as complex and difficult as putting this water settlement together - and getting it passed into law has been.

>> Reporter Paul Atkinson:
That's because the settlement was between more than the tribe and Congress. It involved the majority of water users in Arizona, local cities and the state-all of whom had to agree to it. And it does much more than give the Gila River Community its water back.

>> Jon Kyl:
There will be certainly now for all the major water users now-from the Salt River Project, the irrigation districts, cities and towns, the mining companies as well as the Gila River Indian Community, the Tohono Othatum Indian community as well as the and the central AZ project, because one third of the bill solves the questions of how much money Arizona owes the federal government for construction of the CAP, how the CAP water is going to be divided in the future, finally we set up a fund of both water and money for future Indian water settlements.

>> Paul Atkinson:
The settlement gives the Gila River Indian Community the ability to control its own destiny. But it may never undo the decades of harm brought on by losing its water in the first place.

>>José Cárdenas:
Joining me are Gila River Indian Community Governor Richard Narcia And Rod Lewis, general counsel to the tribe. Thank you for joining us on "Horizon". As senator Kyl's comments indicate, this is big to a lot of people but particularly to the Gila River Indian community. Can you tell us how this fits in with the community's goals?

>> Richard Narcia:
I think the water will give us the opportunity to get the economic stability that we have been seeking and I know that with the water that we can use that resource to do the things that we have been wanting to do since we've developed a plan in 1985 to how all of this is going to fit in to our scenarios and schemes that we're looking at to, for the future of the community.

>>José Cárdenas:
Can you give us a bit of an overview of what those plans are?

>> Richard Narcia:
146,000 acres of land are being projected to be put back into cropping. The farms now, the tribal farms is now 16,000 acres. If you consider that, the total land base for the Gila river is 700,000 acre, that's half our land that we want to put back into cropping.

>>José Cárdenas:
Rod, as pointed out, this is an agreement that involve two states, New Mexico and Arizona. You have the cities, the tribes, just a lot of effort going into this, thousands of hours. How difficult was it to get everybody on board?

>> Rod Lewis:
It is extremely difficult, especially early on. We don't look hostile or imposing but the first problem was getting the parties to sit down on a mutual level of trust and work through these problems. Once we got through the initial phase, we began to talk about how the various water issues could be resolved.

>>José Cárdenas:
Why did it take so long? The litigation began in 1974. 30 years ago. Why did it take so long to get from there to this settlement?

>> Rod Lewis:
There was a time of non-neglect. I don't believe many of the parties have thought that extreme adjudication would move forward and it did. It got filed back in 1978. Not a lot of activity until the early 1990s and even then we didn't have decisions until the latter part of 1996-97. Then we began to have hearings before the Arizona Supreme Court, decisions made and I think those decisions were pretty much in favor of the federal government. And the Indian tribes. There was a limited supply of cap water available to put in the pot as far as causing, as far assessments were concerned.

>>José Cárdenas:
As I understand it, the settlement agreement provides for some water going to local communities. How will that be accomplished and how will the Gila River Indian community benefit from that?

>> Rod Lewis:
We are required to lease back 41,000 acre feet of water to the cities primarily in central Arizona. Chandler and Mesa are the chief beneficiaries. Whether or not more than 41,000 acre feet is leased back is a big policy decision the Gila River Indian community will face. There's going to be a lot of interchange as between the Gila river Indian community and cities and towns. The settlement is going to cause a lot of communication, cooperation issues to arise. It is going to bring the community closer and we'll develop a very close relationship with the cities and towns, which is a good thing. It's beneficial. This is going to cause us to do this.

>>José Cárdenas:
Will it take less than 30 years?

>> Rod Lewis:
It's going to start in 2008, get this approved by the end of 2007 and it's going to start in 2008. 2010 money will flow to the various parties entitled to receive monies from the federal government. It's honest. We have a little lead time in which to prepare all of us. We have a little lead time to cooperate and work with each other.

>> Richard Narcia:
If I could add to Rod's statement with respect to the leasing, it will be a policy decision by our tribal counsel. I think the goal and objective has always been to use all of the water that we're getting because I think we have the land that we can put the water on and the ultimate goal is to, as an economic driver to be pretty much the garden spot of southern Arizona and provide food for the state and the nation.

>>José Cárdenas:
This water could make the community the largest farming operation in the state; is that right?

>> Richard Narcia:
It could very well be.

>>José Cárdenas:
Is that the intent to significantly expand agriculture operations?

>> Richard Narcia:
That is the goal. I think we're the Pimas and the Maricopas are agricultural societies, always have been, and back to our ancestors. It's a cultural thing, too, from my perspective in what we can do with this water.

>>José Cárdenas:
How will you monitor how much water they use?

>> Rod Lewis:
These sophisticated devices. To measure the amount of water coming across the reservation and the quality of water. We think we'll be able to measure the water and calculate the quality of the water accurately. We have built safeguards in the agreements to make sure that the water quality is of the amount the quality we agreed on, so it's, this is what I meant by the cooperation and coordination that's going to have to take place. Instant communication between the cities and us as water flows down.

>>José Cárdenas:
Thank you very much for appearing on our show.

>> Richard Narcia:
Thank you.

>> Merry Lucero:
The Arizona coalition against domestic violence encourages the community to help end domestic violence by joining their volunteer committee. We'll talk about domestic violence policy issues, including a new bill signed by the governor to toughen penalties for spousal rape. Wednesday at 7 p.m. on "Horizon".

>>José Cárdenas:
Thursday, a look at the myths and misconceptions that keep many minorities from buying a home. Then Friday, don't miss a recap of the week's top stories on the journalists' roundtable. That's our show for tonight. I'm José Cárdenas.

KAET-ASU Poll


  • The latest KAET-ASU Poll shows strong support for the minutemen project. Volunteers looking for illegal immigrants along the border. The poll also measured approval for President Bush's guest worker program.
Guests:
  • Bruce Merrill - Director, KAET-ASU Poll
  • Tara Blanc - Assistant Director, KAET-ASU Poll


View Transcript
José Cárdenas:
Tonight on "Horizon", the latest KAET-ASU Poll shows strong support for the minutemen project. Volunteers looking for illegal immigrants along the border. The poll also measured approval for President Bush's guest worker program. Bruce Merrill will join me to talk about the poll results. Plus, a decades long struggle to regain water that was taken from them is over. We'll look at the largest Indian water rights settlement in U.S. history and what it means not only to the Gila River Indian community, but also to valley cities and other water users.

>> It is an agreement that may not appear dramatic to everyday voters, but it will have a profound effect on the quality of life in the 21st century in a place we call Arizona. That's next on "Horizon".

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the friends of Channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>José Cárdenas:
Good evening, welcome to "Horizon". I'm José Cárdenas in for Michael Grant. Immigration-related issues have been at the forefront of the news and our latest KAET-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University Poll reflects some diverse opinions on the matter. We also asked voters if rising gas prices have affected their driving habits. The poll was conducted April 21st through the 24th. We surveyed 415 registered voters, and the poll has a margin of error of 4.8\%. Here are the results.

>> Reporter Mike Sauceda:
57\% of those surveyed support the minuteman project, 34\% do not. 44\% support the actions of Patrick Haab, the man accused of holding several illegal immigrants at gunpoint, 41\% do not. 62\% support President Bush's guest worker program, 29\% are against it. If the guest worker program was to allow amnesty, support drops to 54\%, with 37\% opposing such a plan. We asked voters whether businesses, which knowingly hire illegal immigrants, should be punished. 75\% said yes, 19\% said no. The price of gas has been another hot topic. 23\% of those we asked said the rising price of gas has significantly reduced the number of miles they drive. 29\% said it reduced their driving a little, while 46\% said it reduced their driving not by very much. We asked whether the federal government or the open market should determine grass prices. 37\% said the federal government should regulate prices while 48\% opted for the open market. If there are not changes in the law, by next year high school students will need to pass the AIMS test to graduate. 61\% of those surveyed said that high school students should pass the AIMS test to graduate, 32\% said they should not. Finally, Governor Napolitano got good marks in the poll. 61\% approve of the job she is doing, 27\% disapprove of her performance.

>>José Cárdenas:
Joining me now are Bruce Merrill, director of the KAET-ASU poll and Tara Blanc, assistant poll director. I understand we may have inadvertently given the Republican opponents of Governor Napolitano false hope.

>> Bruce Merrill:
We have been concerned there haven't been strong Republicans standing up to run against her. The results we sent to the press showed her support weaker. Instead of 61\%, the governor is receiving 73\% favorable and only 17\% unfavorable and 10\% undecided. She has about an 82\% favorable rating.

>>José Cárdenas:
Does that explain why the Republicans are having a hard time coming up with an opponent.

>> Bruce Merrill:
I think that's one factor, but there's others. I think it is hard to raise the money, Jose to run against the incumbent governor. It a going to depend on which candidates step forward. I think the consensus is she is going to be hard to run against.

>>José Cárdenas:
A Democratic governor who has gotten high approval rates, but there is strong support for the minuteman project which is kind of the right wing of the political spectrum, how do you explain that?

>> Bruce Merrill:
This is a continuation of what we have been seeing for some time in Arizona. There is no question that the voters are very, very concerned about illegal immigration. The economy has been tough. They feel it's hurting Arizonans, taking jobs away from them. There is no question that there is a big backlash against the issue of illegal immigration. However, I think there is also a question about how you go about doing it. And there's a lot of frustration that the federal government hasn't done anything. We haven't had much done at the state level so I think they are measuring two completely different things. One is a very, very important issue.

>>José Cárdenas:
Tara, support for the governor, strong support for the minuteman program. And then almost an equally divided opinion of Sergeant Haab who was charged with arresting undocumented immigrants. How do you explain that?

>> Tara Blanc:
I think the biggest thing is that with the minuteman project, you have people as Bruce said who are looking at problems of illegal immigration as a whole and the project I think is viewed as a deterrence. Haab was perceived as an individual taking the law in his own hands, that makes people uncomfortable with the idea that somebody would go out and there were a lot of questions about whether there was provocation. I think people were more uncomfortable with that.

>>José Cárdenas:
What does this portend for the county attorney who made a decision not to prosecute?

>> Tara Blanc:
He is going to face a lot of controversy. Again because you got a split view there is going to be a lot of controversy over if he did the right thing or not.

>>José Cárdenas:
Dr. Merrill, again, immigration, with respect to President Bush's guest worker program, pretty strong support for that.

>> Bruce Merrill:
No question. By a 2-1 margin in Arizona people want the guest worker program. I think it is a case of fairness. There are jobs that need to be filled here. People are concerned about people coming across the border illegally. But to show how strong of an issue that is, Jose, we then followed up by asking people, would you still support this, or asked everybody would you support this even if the illegal immigrants that are here were given some kind of resident state us. Still you had 59\% of the people saying yes; we would each support that. So I think what's happening is there is a recognition that we need these people but the question is how do we get them here and what's fair?

>>José Cárdenas:
Are you surprised with an amnesty provision? That seems to be a hot button topic.

>> Tara Blanc:
I don't know that I was surprised at the result. Again as Bruce said, I think that people recognize that we have jobs that are available for people who want the work and need the work. I think the real issue is again the legality of the people who are taking the jobs now. I think people support the notion that we have room for immigrants to come into this country and to work and to be here. It's a matter of playing by the rules or not playing by the rules.

>>José Cárdenas:
Some of those same people would say for precisely that reason we should not grant amnesty because you are rewarding people who have broken the rules.

>> Tara Blanc:
There's going to continue to be a lot of debate about that. I'm not sure, that's one of the those moral questions that are not easily resolved.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Whether or not they're true or whether or not they're myths, a perception becomes reality. Most people in Arizona tell us that number one, they believe illegal immigrants, and people coming across are taking jobs away from people that want them. I'm not sure that's the case. Second, they tell us they are using services like state services without paying for them. And so I think that's, those are really the things that people are concerned about. And the idea that they're not paying taxes and they're not paying into -

>>José Cárdenas:
According to a recent article in the New York Times that's not true, a significant amount of taxes and Social Security benefits going unclaimed.

>> Bruce Merrill:
That's why I suggested somebody ought to do a study and see what the truth is. I think all we know from the public opinion point of view it is an issue that has been growing in intensity in Arizona for some time. And as was suggested, on the other hand, it's a complex issue and there are dimensions of how to handle it from a legal and fairness point of view.

>>José Cárdenas:
We have about 40 seconds left. First, Tara, the gas hike prices.

>> Tara Blanc:
People have cut their driving some but probably not enough. I think gas prices are going to have to go higher before we see significant impacts.

>>José Cárdenas:
Support for federal regulation?

>> Tara Blanc:
Not as much as still leaving it to the market.

>>José Cárdenas:
Bruce, the AIMS test, we have a majority of people supporting it.

>> Bruce Merrill:
In 20 seconds, it's a complex issue, is this the right test. I think what this is measuring is accountability. I think a great deal of our income goes from Arizona goes into education. I think people want to know that we're turning out a quality product.

>>José Cárdenas:
Thank you both for joining us.

>> Tara Blanc:
Thank the volunteers for their help.

>>José Cárdenas
: It is the largest Indian water rights agreement in the history of the United States. Some 30 years after taking legal action to regain water they once used, the Gila River Indian community was awarded a significant amount of water and $400 million to build new water delivery systems. Paul Atkinson looks at the hardship created by the loss of water and the hard work to gain it back.

>> Paul Atkinson:
It's the latest investment by the Gila River Indian community. The western theme town rawhide will relocate later this year from north Scottsdale to wild horse pass south of Phoenix. It will join a new 500 room Sheraton: hotel, signature golf course and a facility that made this possible, the Wild Horse Pass Casino.

>> Richard Narcia:
The intention is to make it a destination point from, with respect to the nation and the world.

>> Paul Atkinson:
The overall goal of the Gila River Indian community is to become self-sufficient. Gambling proceeds have provided the source for the tribe to invest in moneymaking ventures. But it's another resource that could ultimately return the 20,000-member community to prosperity. Water. This is the Gila River as it exits the mountains west of Coolidge dam. It flowed for hundreds of miles eventually connecting with the Colorado River.

>> Rod Lewis:
Water is the basis, was and is the basis of our economy.

>> Rod Lewis:
We transported the water from rivers to farms and generally along the Gila River. It is the lifeblood, literally the lifeblood.

>> Reporter Paul Atkinson:
For hundreds of years Pimas and Maricopas lived on the river, using as much water as they needed. That changed in the 19th century.

>> Dana Norris:
With the influx of the European setters, in the middle of that century, we began to lose the water that is necessary to carry on the tradition of farming that we have always had throughout our history.

>> Dana Norris:
We were brought to destitution in the process and by the late 1800s, specifically 1893, there was a lot of poverty. We literally had people dying of hunger. And we never quite recovered from that.

>> Rod Lewis:
About the 1890s, maybe the 1880s, the water diversions were so great that the Gila river simply dried up-just destroying the economic stability of Pimas and Maricopas. It was just disastrous-there was simply no water available.

>> Rod Lewis:
For what once had been a very thriving group of tribes-Pimas' and Maricopas, we were desolate. Economically ruined. And recovery from those times in the late 19th century still has not been made today."

>> Paul Atkinson:
Fallow reservation land will soon have water to irrigate it. President Bush signed the Arizona Water Settlement Act December 10th, 2004. It gives the Gila River Community 653-thousand acre-feet of water a year. The community recently celebrated passage of the Act by thanking those who played a role.

>> Richard Narcia:
It's been the cumulation of decades of struggle for our people to regain in certainty the most important resource that represents in many ways our "othem hinduck"-as we say-our way of life.

>> Don Antone:
It's been a long drawn out problem or fight with our waters.

>> Paul Atkinson:
Don Antone worked for the Gila River Tribal Council almost 40 years ago when leaders decided to do something about the water they lost decades before. The former governor and others testified numerous times in Washington-but to no avail.

>> Don Antone:
"And so it's been like that for that there on because we didn't have the resources to hire the professional people to assist us-until the gaming enterprises came on board and when that happen we began to realize some income and we were able to hire professionals and technical people to assist us."

>> Paul Atkinson:
Don Pongrace is a beltway lobbyist who helped guide the settlement.

>> Don Pongrace:
It required a great deal of luck, all the hard work that went into - and frankly an understanding of the process in Washington that was sufficient to allow the luck and handwork to pay off. Without that understanding it was probably as close a political process that I've ever been involved in.

>> JD Hayworth:
There were times when it seems that the congressional calendar or any number of contentious items would derail this-and it's a credit to all the parties involved and the calm and deliberate approach that senator Kyl brought to this -that we were able to achieve this agreement.

>> Jon Kyl:
I've been involved in some complex matters-- both my legal career and in my 20 years in Congress. I have never been involved in anything as complex and difficult as putting this water settlement together - and getting it passed into law has been.

>> Reporter Paul Atkinson:
That's because the settlement was between more than the tribe and Congress. It involved the majority of water users in Arizona, local cities and the state-all of whom had to agree to it. And it does much more than give the Gila River Community its water back.

>> Jon Kyl:
There will be certainly now for all the major water users now-from the Salt River Project, the irrigation districts, cities and towns, the mining companies as well as the Gila River Indian Community, the Tohono Othatum Indian community as well as the and the central AZ project, because one third of the bill solves the questions of how much money Arizona owes the federal government for construction of the CAP, how the CAP water is going to be divided in the future, finally we set up a fund of both water and money for future Indian water settlements.

>> Paul Atkinson:
The settlement gives the Gila River Indian Community the ability to control its own destiny. But it may never undo the decades of harm brought on by losing its water in the first place.

>>José Cárdenas:
Joining me are Gila River Indian Community Governor Richard Narcia And Rod Lewis, general counsel to the tribe. Thank you for joining us on "Horizon". As senator Kyl's comments indicate, this is big to a lot of people but particularly to the Gila River Indian community. Can you tell us how this fits in with the community's goals?

>> Richard Narcia:
I think the water will give us the opportunity to get the economic stability that we have been seeking and I know that with the water that we can use that resource to do the things that we have been wanting to do since we've developed a plan in 1985 to how all of this is going to fit in to our scenarios and schemes that we're looking at to, for the future of the community.

>>José Cárdenas:
Can you give us a bit of an overview of what those plans are?

>> Richard Narcia:
146,000 acres of land are being projected to be put back into cropping. The farms now, the tribal farms is now 16,000 acres. If you consider that, the total land base for the Gila river is 700,000 acre, that's half our land that we want to put back into cropping.

>>José Cárdenas:
Rod, as pointed out, this is an agreement that involve two states, New Mexico and Arizona. You have the cities, the tribes, just a lot of effort going into this, thousands of hours. How difficult was it to get everybody on board?

>> Rod Lewis:
It is extremely difficult, especially early on. We don't look hostile or imposing but the first problem was getting the parties to sit down on a mutual level of trust and work through these problems. Once we got through the initial phase, we began to talk about how the various water issues could be resolved.

>>José Cárdenas:
Why did it take so long? The litigation began in 1974. 30 years ago. Why did it take so long to get from there to this settlement?

>> Rod Lewis:
There was a time of non-neglect. I don't believe many of the parties have thought that extreme adjudication would move forward and it did. It got filed back in 1978. Not a lot of activity until the early 1990s and even then we didn't have decisions until the latter part of 1996-97. Then we began to have hearings before the Arizona Supreme Court, decisions made and I think those decisions were pretty much in favor of the federal government. And the Indian tribes. There was a limited supply of cap water available to put in the pot as far as causing, as far assessments were concerned.

>>José Cárdenas:
As I understand it, the settlement agreement provides for some water going to local communities. How will that be accomplished and how will the Gila River Indian community benefit from that?

>> Rod Lewis:
We are required to lease back 41,000 acre feet of water to the cities primarily in central Arizona. Chandler and Mesa are the chief beneficiaries. Whether or not more than 41,000 acre feet is leased back is a big policy decision the Gila River Indian community will face. There's going to be a lot of interchange as between the Gila river Indian community and cities and towns. The settlement is going to cause a lot of communication, cooperation issues to arise. It is going to bring the community closer and we'll develop a very close relationship with the cities and towns, which is a good thing. It's beneficial. This is going to cause us to do this.

>>José Cárdenas:
Will it take less than 30 years?

>> Rod Lewis:
It's going to start in 2008, get this approved by the end of 2007 and it's going to start in 2008. 2010 money will flow to the various parties entitled to receive monies from the federal government. It's honest. We have a little lead time in which to prepare all of us. We have a little lead time to cooperate and work with each other.

>> Richard Narcia:
If I could add to Rod's statement with respect to the leasing, it will be a policy decision by our tribal counsel. I think the goal and objective has always been to use all of the water that we're getting because I think we have the land that we can put the water on and the ultimate goal is to, as an economic driver to be pretty much the garden spot of southern Arizona and provide food for the state and the nation.

>>José Cárdenas:
This water could make the community the largest farming operation in the state; is that right?

>> Richard Narcia:
It could very well be.

>>José Cárdenas:
Is that the intent to significantly expand agriculture operations?

>> Richard Narcia:
That is the goal. I think we're the Pimas and the Maricopas are agricultural societies, always have been, and back to our ancestors. It's a cultural thing, too, from my perspective in what we can do with this water.

>>José Cárdenas:
How will you monitor how much water they use?

>> Rod Lewis:
These sophisticated devices. To measure the amount of water coming across the reservation and the quality of water. We think we'll be able to measure the water and calculate the quality of the water accurately. We have built safeguards in the agreements to make sure that the water quality is of the amount the quality we agreed on, so it's, this is what I meant by the cooperation and coordination that's going to have to take place. Instant communication between the cities and us as water flows down.

>>José Cárdenas:
Thank you very much for appearing on our show.

>> Richard Narcia:
Thank you.

>> Merry Lucero:
The Arizona coalition against domestic violence encourages the community to help end domestic violence by joining their volunteer committee. We'll talk about domestic violence policy issues, including a new bill signed by the governor to toughen penalties for spousal rape. Wednesday at 7 p.m. on "Horizon".

>>José Cárdenas:
Thursday, a look at the myths and misconceptions that keep many minorities from buying a home. Then Friday, don't miss a recap of the week's top stories on the journalists' roundtable. That's our show for tonight. I'm José Cárdenas.

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