Native American Water Rights Settlements: Looking Back and Moving Forward

5:30 – 8:00 PM, Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spend an evening with experts and your AWRA colleagues to learn about Native American water rights settlements in the United States. We will be looking at settlements from the past 20 years, both assessing their status today and discussing lessons learned. We will also be focusing on policies and changes in new and recent settlements. The panel will open with a brief background on Indian water rights settlements to orient those unfamiliar with the topic. Ample time will be allowed for audience Q&A and discussion.


  • Joel Williams, Native American Rights Fund

Mr. Williams, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. After graduating from law school, he was Assistant Counsel with the Pennsylvania Governor's Office of General Counsel, where he represented the executive branch as a trial and appellate attorney. Joel is currently an LLM Environmental Law candidate at the Vermont Law School. Immediately before joining NARF, Joel was Senior Legislative Officer with Cherokee Nation and director of the tribe's Washington, DC office.

  • Ryan Smith, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Mr. Smith served as a senior legislative advisor to U.S. Senate Minority Whip, Jon Kyl, and has been instrumental in the development of federal legislation relating to Indian tribes and western natural resources. Prior to joining Senator Kyl's staff, he was deputy counsel for the Arizona Department of Water Resources. There, he represented the State of Arizona in connection with Indian water settlements, and surface and groundwater management. Mr. Smith is a frequent author and speaker on Indian water law and legislation.

  • Joseph Membrino, Hall Estill

Mr. Membrino began work in Indian law in 1972 with the Native American Rights Fund in Colorado. He served for 13 years in Interior Department's Solicitor's office, the last seven of which was as Assistant Solicitor in the Branch of Water and Power in the Division of Indian Affairs. In 1989, Mr. Membrino went into private practice with Hall Estill PC where he continues to practice Indian law with emphasis on water and fishing rights. Mr. Membrino has participated in a number of water rights settlements.


Click here for event flyer .


5:30 pm: Registration & Refreshments

6:15 pm: Panel Discussion

7:30 pm: Q&A

8:00 pm: Adjourn

Room #1344, Main Interior Building

1849 C Street NW, Washington DC 20240

Building access at the C Street or E Street entrance will require a photo ID and screening

Public transportation:

Closest metro station is Farragut West or Farragut North 


On-street meterd



Please register by Tuesday, November 19, 2013 to allow for a catering headcount.

Registration fees:

$10 - members

$5 - student members

$15 - non-members

Online registration helps with our final planning for refreshments and printed materials.

Walk-in registrations are always welcome.




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