Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute Film Screening and Panel Discussion

You’re probably aware of some of the stories of water in the Owens Valley and Los Angeles. Books have been written on the subject and even Hollywood movies made about it. But there is more, much more, to the story.


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. Millennia before Los Angeles diverted the Owens River through the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the Paiute had constructed miles of intricate irrigation systems.


Using archival maps from 1856, the filmmakers spent four years working with Paiute elders to locate and map their remnant irrigation systems, and ultimately laying the foundation for a ‘first use’ water rights case.
ESLT and Owens Valley Indian Water Commission co-hosted an online film screening of Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute and a panel discussion moderated by Kyndall Noah, OVIWC Communication Specialist, with the following indigenous water protectors:
  • Brian Poncho, Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Board Representative for the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission;
  • Paul Huette, Vice Chairman of the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission; and
  • Teri Red Owl, Executive Director of Owens Valley Indian Water Commission.
We had a great evening hearing the water story of our community members here in the Owens Valley, and we hope you learned more of the water history here in the Owens Valley along with us. If you missed the discussion or would like to rewatch it and share it, you can find the recording here. The film, Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute, is not included in the recording, but can be purchased from Owens Valley Indian Water Commission. Also, joining their email list is a great way to hear about upcoming screenings.

We’ve had a lot of questions on how each of us can support the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission’s effort to settle outstanding land and water claims, and to rectify past injustices. You can visit the OVIWC website to receive information, and ESLT will also send out information for future actions.

Thank you for your interest in this important issue, and the film screening and panel discussion of Paya: The Water Story of the Paiute! 


Link to view the panel discussion recording:
Link to purchase the film,