Indian water rights settlements have been the primary mechanism to resolve water conflicts between tribal governments and state, municipal, and non-governmental parties. Although scholars have for decades roundly criticized settlements for their many shortcomings, this paper suggests that a combination of forces has altered the conditions for Indian water rights settlements. Settlement remains a difficult process, but a new moment for Indian water rights settlement may have arrived. This paper explains how political conditions have changed and makes a novel legal argument to supply a strategy for tribal governments to advance their bargaining position in settlement discussions.

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