Presented by Arizona Trail Association

Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute


Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute tells the untold story of America’s longest lived water war between the Owens Valley Paiute and the city of Los Angeles. Using in-depth interviews, 2-d animation, archival footage and photography, Paya documents the history of the Owens Valley Paiute who constructed and managed sixty square miles of intricate irrigation systems for millennia, long before Los Angeles diverted the Owens River through the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 220 miles across the Mojave Desert.

In celebration of Earth Day, the Owens Valley Paiute Tribes of California are bringing an award-winning documentary film to Tucson for one night only.

After the Indian War of 1863, surviving Paiute returned to the valley from the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains to find their ancient waterworks taken over by white settlers. Over 150 years later, the Paiute continue the fight to save their water systems, which are remnant throughout the Owens Valley landscape. Using archival maps from 1856, the filmmakers spent four years working with Paiute elders to locate and map their remnant irrigation systems using GIS technology, ultimately laying the foundation for a ‘first use’ water rights case now underway. Paya is currently being used by the Owens Valley Paiute and the Native American and academic communities nationally to mobilize tribes. The film received the “Best Documentary Short” award at the Red Nation Film Festival and has been selected for screenings at renowned environmental and native right film festivals nationwide. (Dir. by Jenna Cavelle, 2015, 37 mins., Not Rated)