River Rights - The Law Of The River

Legal History Presentations

Legal scholars will present the Law of the River in 22 dependent communities. "River Rights" examines how the river has been perceived by most westerners as a resource to sustain transportation, irrigation, and "urban archipelagoes" such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. The "rights" theme embodies how notions of ownership, use, and access are understood and played out in the West, and how these notions are interpreted through different historical, philosophical, legal, and cultural lenses. By looking at the Colorado River, the public will gain an understanding of how western communities try to regulate flow for sustained existence, predicated on the knowledge that growth will continue and that the Colorado River is central to the West’s population expansion.

Humanities issues will frame questions about the role of the government as protector of environment, as promoter of special interests, as agent of cultural change, preservation, and destruction. By looking at the Colorado River as a contested terrain, the project poses the question, "What does it mean to transfer or divert the river to water the garden of the West?"