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Celebrate Waters 2022


 Ralph Johnson Water Hero Award to Carla Carson, Muckleshoot Analyst/Hydrologist (retired)

Special guest speaker, John Echohawk, Executive Director Native American Rights Fund

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The 2023 Celebrate Waters event at Ivar’s Acres of Clams on Thursday, September 21 was a terrific success! It was a beautiful evening on the waterfront as we enjoyed delicious food and beverages and chatted with friends old and new.

We proudly presented Carla Carlson, retired Muckleshoot Analyst/Hydrologist with the Ralph Johnson Water Hero Award for her service and dedication to tribal water rights and instream flows around the state. CELP is immensely grateful for the work Carla has done over her 30-year career to protect our water resources, and we again thank everyone who attended for helping us recognize Carla for her contributions toward ensuring that future generations have access to clean and flowing waters in Washington!

We also welcomed Native American Rights Fund Executive Director, John Echohawk as our keynote speaker. Mr. Echohawk spoke about the importance of tribal water rights, their history and  the federal and state adjudications to recognize them.  We left inspired and grateful for his life-long dedication to tribal rights across the United States.


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Carla Carlson, Ralph Johnson Water Hero Awardee, Muckleshoot Water Resource/Hydrologist (retired)

“I was born and raised in Bremerton, Washington, and grew to love the state’s natural resources from working summers at Mt. Rainier National Park with the Youth Conservation Corps. That experience prompted me to attend the Huxley College of Environmental College at Western Washington University, where I received a BS in 1982.  I then attended the UW taking graduate forest hydrology and environmental science coursework. My professional career started with several years of water quality field and lab work at Metro, an agency that later merged into King County. That followed with a “dream job” as a US Forest Service hydrologist on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  Planning clearcuts and living where my address was a milepost turned out not to be a dream, so in 1991, I returned to urban living with a job with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe staying until this February when I retired.  

During my 31 years at Muckleshoot as a water resource analyst/hydrologist, I helped protect tribal treaty water rights In WRIA’s 8, 9, and 10 by providing technical and scientific input on groundwater appropriations to Ecology, analyzing and testifying on harmful water bills at the state legislature, and negotiating water right settlements. Some successes included providing expert testimony to support Ecology denials of water rights for cases at the PCHB, which culminated in the state supreme court decision on Postema; conducting water quality and flow studies to help reach a joint tribal agreement with the Cascade Water Alliance on the Lake Tapps water supply; and working with the tribal natural resource lobbyist to “kill” bad water bills at the state legislature. Other successes include collecting and providing data to Ecology to place a portion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal on the 303d list for temperature and helping to secure state funding and tribal involvement for the Lower White River Restoration project. 

After a career of 37 years, I am now enjoying traveling, gardening, and conducting genealogy research, and spending time with my husband and two cats at our home in Auburn”. 

John Echohawk, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund

John Echohawk is the Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF).  NARF, which was founded in 1970, considers Indian water rights to be one of the most important Native American rights issues and has been involved in nine of the 32 Indian water rights cases that have resulted in settlements.  

NARF currently represents the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, the Klamath Tribes of Oregon, the Tule River Tribe of California, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians on water rights issues.     

Mr. Echohawk has worked with the Department of the Interior, the Western Governors Association, the Western States Water Council, the Conference of Western Attorneys General, the Western Business Roundtable, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Joint Federal Tribal Water Funding Task Force to promote favorable Indian water rights settlement policies.  He was also appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Western Water Policy Review Commission.  In 1992, he served on the Clinton-Gore transition team for the Department of the Interior.  In 2008, he served on the Obama-Biden transition team for the Department of the Interior.   

He serves on the Boards of the American Indian Resources Institute, the Association on American Indian Affairs, the Indigenous Language Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. B.A., University of New Mexico (1967); J.D., University of New Mexico (1970); Reginald Heber Smith Fellow (1970-72); Native American Rights Fund (August 1970 to present); admitted to practice law in Colorado.

See John’s resume to learn more about his experience and credentials.  

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