“Colorado Basin.” Source: Congressional Research Service
Dr. Michael Brescia

March 7, 2019, Thursday, 2:30–4:30 PM, The Arizona Senior Academy Building

Dr. Michael Brescia, Arizona State Museum and University of Arizona

Humanity is reliant upon the physical resources and natural systems of the Earth for the provision of food, energy, and water. Particularly in our desert southwest, it is imperative that we integrate across  natural and built environments to provide for food, water and energy while maintaining appropriate ecosystem services. Factors contributing to stresses in the food, energy, and water (FEW) systems include increasing regional and social pressures and governance issues as result of land use change and climate variability. In Arizona we have seen the recent development of a drought plan which, as part of a six-state agreement, will demand less water use from the Colorado River, calculated from the annual height of Lake Mead.  

Dr. Brescia explores what is perhaps the least known of Spain’s legal impacts on the United States, that is, water rights and natural resource law.  His presentation will evaluate fundamentals of Spanish colonial law and how it defined a variety of property rights and natural resource usages.  Drawing from his experiences as an expert witness, he will discuss the important role of international treaties between the United States and Mexico and the manner in which old Spanish law continues to shape many Hispanic and Native American communities today.

Dr. Brescia is Curator of Ethnohistory in the Arizona State Museum with faculty affiliations in the Department of History and the College of Law at the University of Arizona.  He has co-authored two books examining the broader historical forces shaping our continent from Pre-Columbian times to the present: Mexico and the United States: Ambivalent Vistas (2010), and North America: An Introduction (2009).  He presented a well-received series of lectures at ASA last fall on Mexican history from pre-Spanish contact to the revolution of the early 20th century.

Written by Norman Scott, Academy Village Volunteer

Mar. 7: “Whiskey is for Drinking, Water is for Fighting Over: The Legacies of Spanish and Mexican Law and Natural Resources”