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The 21st Century has been marked by significant advancements in technology, from travel to Mars and self-driving cars to smartphones and bitcoin. And yet, at the same time, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans live without access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water. By some estimates, 48% of households on Indian reservations do not have clean water or adequate sanitation. This lack of access has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, but it is not a new issue. Native American communities have long suffered inequities stemming from colonization and perpetrated by federal policy. While the pandemic has devastated many Tribal communities, it has also brought attention to issues long ignored, including lack of clean water access and health disparities. As a result, a unique window of opportunity has arisen to address these issues and achieve universal access to clean water across the United States. This commentary discusses common challenges faced by tribal communities to secure clean water access, from lack of infrastructure to laws and legal systems that reduce the access to a clean, safe, and reliable water supply.
Water Is Life: Law, Systemic Racism, and Water Security in Indian Country, Heather Tanana, Julie Combs, and Aila Hoss, Health Security 2021 19:S1, S-78-S-82