Matthew Makley—Sacred Waters, Secular Waters: A History of the Reclamation Act (1902), Pyramid Lake, and the Truckee River

Matthew Makley
  • Date: Sunday, October 8, 2023
  • Time: 12:00 noon
  • Location: Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street

The sacred centrality of water for Indigenous communities in the American West has not been enough to protect that water in American courts. As the twentieth century unfolded, Native communities had to find secular and legally sound ways to protect sacred waters. Nowhere is this clearer than on the Northern Paiute Reservation at Pyramid Lake. This talk will focus briefly on the Reclamation Act of 1902 which set in motion the "Newlands Project." It will then describe the ways the Tribe fought, using the legal system, to reclaim and protect its sacred waters.

Matthew S. Makley, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the History Department at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is the author of The Small Shall be Strong: A History of Lake Tahoe's Washoe Indians (2018), which won an American Library Association award for "Outstanding Academic Titles." Born and raised at Lake Tahoe, Makley has lived in Golden, Colorado since 2007.