Monday, October 24, 2011

NARF Receives 3 Star Rating from Charity Navigator

The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has been upgraded to a three-star (of a possible four) rating by Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading charity watchdog group. Charity Navigator’s evaluations of a charity’s Financial Health --- which examine how a charity manages its finances day to day and how financially well-positioned it is in order to sustain its programs over time --- have helped millions of donors make better giving decisions impacting billions of dollars of donations each year.

“We are very pleased to be recognized by Charity Navigator in this way,” said Morgan O’Brien, NARF Director of Development. “We have worked hard to improve in all areas of efficiency and transparency.”

NARF is the largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting tribal sovereignty and enforcing treaty rights. NARF also helps protect the rights of Native Americans to practice their traditional religions, speak their own languages and enjoy their cultures.

Charity Navigator, America's premiere independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability and Transparency of America's largest charities.

“In these difficult economic times, we’re thrilled to give donors more information to help them determine which charities they support are efficient and accountable,” said Ken Berger, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “So, for the first time since launching our charity rating service nearly 10 years ago, we’ve made a major enhancement to our rating system. We know that donors will welcome this change as it gives them more knowledge to do more good.”

NARF Sponsors Indian Water Rights Symposium

On August 23-25, 2011, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the Western States Water Council (WSWC) held the twelfth Symposium on the Settlement of Indian Reserved Water Rights Claims. Since 1991, the NARF and WSWC have sponsored a biennial Symposium to discuss the settlement of Indian reserved water rights claims. This year’s symposium was held in Billings, Montana with over 225 people in attendance.

Globally, an estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water. In the United States, only 0.6% of the population lacks Access to drinking water and wastewater disposal. But disproportionately, 13% of American Indians lack that access—some 20 times the national average.

NARF has been engaged in litigating and negotiating water rights for tribes for decades, and water law comprises a significant portion of our case load. In Winters v. United States, the right to water was impliedly reserved for the resident tribes with the creation of their reservations. The quantity of Indian water rights is measured by the amount of water needed to fulfill the present and future needs of the reservation – cultural, domestic, municipal, commercial, industrial and agricultural.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester recognizes the value of negotiated water settlements, and greeted the Symposium participants with this message:

“We’re already seeing the benefits of water settlements in Montana—like jobs and stronger infrastructure. But our work is not done. In addition to the Crow Water Settlement, which passed last year, I continue fighting to get the resources necessary to build authorized projects at Rocky Boy and Fort Peck. We’re also looking for opportunities to advance settlements on the Fort Belknap and Blackfeet reservations.”

This year’s session topics included: Negotiation of Indian Water Rights Claims - the Basics; Settlement Implementation - the Administration’s Settlement Policy; and Settlement Legislation - Getting Bills through Congress. The primary Symposium format consists of panel discussions with presenters who have been involved in negotiated settlements representing tribal, state, local, and federal governments, interest groups, congressional staff, and others. The Symposium schedule provided opportunities for informal interchange and cultural enlightenment. A main feature of the Symposium is always a tour of a local Indian community that highlights a recent settlement’s benefits. This year’s field trip toured the Crow Reservation and concluded with an evening social and cultural event hosted by the Crow Tribe.

For additional information about the Symposium program and to download materials, go to