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Native American Rights Fund and the Walton Family Foundation Announce First-of-its-Kind Tribal Water Institute

November 13, 2023
Walton Family Foundation commits $1.4 Million

Washington, D.C. - The Native American Rights Fund and the Walton Family Foundation today announced the creation of the Tribal Water Institute. It will provide Tribal Nations resources and training to advocate for their water rights and develop water policy solutions. The Walton Family Foundation is making a three-year, $1.4 million commitment to launch the Institute. It will be housed within the Native American Rights Fund.

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Mark Shields
Senior Communications Officer, Environment

“Addressing the West’s significant water challenges requires an all-hands on deck approach. Tribal Nations must be included in water decision making,” said Moira Mcdonald, Environment Program Director of the Walton Family Foundation. “Tribal Nations often have the most senior water rights in the Colorado River Basin and throughout the West. But they are under-represented in federal and state policy discussions. That is unjust and unwise. We need to listen to their voices. More inclusive decision-making will lead to greater benefits for the environment and society as a whole.”

The Native American Rights Fund has a long history of representing Tribal Nations on water rights. The Tribal Water Institute will double their water staffing. They will be able to take on more casework. It will also build a pipeline of new leaders and develop research and forward-thinking policy proposals.

“As the nation’s largest and oldest non-profit dedicated to advancing the rights of Native Americans, the Native American Rights Fund has been at the forefront of key legal battles across Indian Country,” said Native American Rights Fund Staff Attorney David Gover. “The Tribal Water Institute helps fill a critical gap. It will provide legal support, train water attorneys, develop policy ideas, and educate state and federal decision makers. By increasing law and policy expertise within Tribal Nations, we can help Indian Country ensure water is available for generations to come.”

Learn more about the Tribal Water Institute at

About the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit

About the Native American Rights Fund

Since 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has provided legal assistance to Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide who might otherwise have gone without adequate representation. NARF has successfully asserted and defended the most important rights of Indians and tribes in hundreds of major cases, and has achieved significant results in such critical areas as tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, natural resource protection, voting rights, and Indian education. To learn more, visit