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The Water Story
Who owns the water in our rivers? Read the small stories below; then click on the buttons to say what you care about and what you don't.
Charlie Leaphorn
Charlie Leaphorn
Maria Ruiz
Maria Ruiz
Ed Norris
Ed Norris
Read more about Charlie Read more about Maria Read more about Ed

1. If you were taking an air-conditioned job over the summer, you might decide to:
work as a clerk, assisting a lawyer representing the tribe. Ultimately, it all comes down to what the courts allow.
work with a job development agency in the city. When people feel their money is secure, they can work together more comfortably.

2. You're making a video about the water situation. Your opening shot, to set the tone of the video, would be:
A tracking shot of the river - with voice-over narration explaining its significance for the tribe's culture.
A clip from the Jif-Mart's security cameras, showing the racial tension that's fueling this fight.

3. You're asked to write a philosophical paper that sets these issues in context. Your main question would be:
How can past injuries to native populations be corrected?
Is it fair for a small minority group to overrule the wishes of the majority?
How can we fairly divide economic resources?

4. A good witch grants you one wish, to be used in creating a solution to this situation. You thank her, and then immediately request that:
There be an end to the threat of violence against the tribe.
The tribe and the city join together to take on the industrial polluters.
The health and well-being of both the tribe and the city dwellers improve.

5. If you were an appeals court judge, would you insist that any decision about the river should take into account its central role in the culture of Charlie's tribe?
Yes. This river isn't just a body of water. It's a way of life and a set of traditions that deserve special protection.
Don't ask me -- I have no idea.
No, I disagree. Sure Charlie's tribe uses the river, but so do the townspeople. You can't make laws based on one particular group's issues.

6. How do you feel about Ed's pink slip?
Poor Ed. This is actually a huge issue -- job loss puts people and the whole economy at great risk.
You can't protect against stuff like this. It's not really an issue that the tribal members and the council should worry about.
Ed should stop whining and find another job.

7. Do you think the city government should appeal the court's ruling?
Sure. It's what the courts say that really counts.
I think there are probably better ways to deal with this. But who knows?
That's just a waste of time. They should deal with real people, not with lawyers!

8. This tribe's not doing so well, is it? What they really need is someone who will:
teach anti-bias issues in the city's schools. With more cultural understanding, a lot of these problems could be worked through.
help the tribe organize a protest at city hall. The main point is for them to assert their legal rights.

9. No more questions! You must take action! You give away all of your belongings so that you can:
Work in a Native American school on tribal lands.
Clerk in the office of the city's Mayor.
Intern in a museum devoted to the area's history and culture.

10. Okay, one more question. The person you really want to talk to here is:
Charlie. I must express my support of the tribe.
Commissioner Ruiz. I must urge her to consider a balance of tribal and city dweller rights.
Ed. He needs to spread the word that people's jobs and the healthy economy of the city are crucial to any solution.

Information drawn from Jason Lenderman, "A Tiny Tribe Wins Big on Clean Water," High Country, February 2, 1998.
thirteen ed online