Date of Graduation

Summer 8-4-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


The issue of Native American water rights and the sovereignty of their land on reservations is gaining increasing prominence, making it the focal point of this thesis as an environmental justice concern. Native Americans face disproportionate public health challenges related to water accessibility, contamination, sanitation, outdated infrastructure, and other social determinants of health. The legal framework that governs the coexistence of Native Americans in the United States is rooted in a settler colonial perspective. Consequently, this has created a dependent relationship between Native Americans and the United States federal government. Despite the long-standing advocacy of Tribes for sovereignty since the inception of the United States, the dependent relationship is often inadequately acknowledged. This paper investigates the impact of postcolonial water rights on Native Americans, exploring topics such as water accessibility, climate change, socioecological consequences, existing interventions, and recommendations to address prevailing environmental justice issues.