Supreme Court Case Could Reshape Indigenous Water Rights in the Southwest
A close-up view of center-pivot irrigation watering corn on Navajo Agricultural Products Industry farmland. (Photo courtesy of NAPI)
Tucked away on the northern New Mexico portion of the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation is a green oasis in an otherwise arid, often overgrazed landscape. The region, which received only 3.8 inches of rain in 2020, is home to one of the largest tracts of contiguous farmland in the continental United States. Water from Navajo Lake flows through 70 miles of canals before heading down an additional 340 miles of lateral irrigation ditches to a sea of roughly 700 central pivot-irrigated circles. There, the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, known as NAPI, grows blue cornmeal, whole sumac berries, and juniper trees, among other culturally relevant foods under the Navajo Pride label.