Rodney Blaine Lewis

Nov. 15, 1940 – April 10, 2018

Rodney “Rod” Blaine Lewis (Nov. 15, 1940 – April 10, 2018) was a leader and mentor.

This is what James Thomas Tucker wrote about Rod in Arizona Attorney magazine:

“His accomplishments place him in the pantheon of the nation’s greatest leaders. He has left a legacy from which all future generations of Arizonans will benefit…Rod is legendary for his life of “firsts”… But Rod’s greatest legacies are in the people and land of the Gila River Indian Community, and the water that is its lifeblood.

Rod is missed by those who knew him, or had the even greater honor to work with him. Yet he remains with us. Whether it is through the sound of rushing water that has allowed the luscious lands of the Pima to blossom again or the economic development and prosperity that followed, Rod’s eff orts have ensured that the fruits of Mother Earth will remain now and for the future. A great protector of all Native peoples, Rod’s gentle soul is with us every day.”

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Karen Francis-Begay Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, UArizona President Robert C. Robbins and Rod Lewis. This was taken at the Gila River Indian Community on September 27, 2017.

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Sharon B. Megdal The MAR 5 Project, which is a living symbol of Rod’s life’s work.


Sharon B. Megdal, Director of the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, wrote this about Rod Lewis:

“For me, a defining moment in my relationship with Rod occurred in March 2015, when I attended a dinner at Gila River Indian Community’s Vee Quiva Hotel and Casino. There, Rod drew on his vast experience in his keynote presentation on tribal water rights and settlements. His comprehensive, clear, and convincing remarks made a lasting impression. In February 2017, I was…thrilled when Rod graciously agreed to provide a similar guest lecture for my graduate water policy students, who recognized that they were in the presence of a legal icon. That Rod took time from his busy schedule to drive to Tucson to meet with my students demonstrated his strong commitment to training the next generation of water professionals. Shortly afterward, Rod was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey to the Board of Directors of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (aka Central Arizona Project (CAP)). The first Native American to serve on the board, Rod contributed unique insights to board discussions. It was such a pleasure to serve with Rod on the CAP Board.”

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Willardene Lewis, Rod’s widow, published this moving poem, The Law of the River, something that itself will live on forever.


Image courtesy of the Gila River Indian News

Listen to a reading of the poem by Rod and Willardene’s second eldest grandchild, Sarah Camille Chiago.