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Arizona v. San Carlos Apache Tribe

United States Supreme Court
463 U.S. 545 (1983)


In 1976, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Colorado River Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976), that the McCarran Amendment, 43 U.S.C. § 666, provided states with jurisdiction to adjudicate water rights asserted by the United States on behalf of Indians. Colorado River also held that federal lawsuits brought by the United States should be dismissed in favor of states comprehensively adjudicating water rights in their state courts. At the time of the Colorado River decision, Indian tribes in Montana and Arizona had claims pending in federal court to adjudicate their water rights. At the same time, Arizona and Montana simultaneously sought comprehensive adjudications of all water rights in their state courts. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve the question of whether federal or state courts had jurisdiction to adjudicate Indian water-rights claims raised by Indians, rather than by the United States, in light of the McCarran Amendment.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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