In 1880, five tribes were moved onto reservations along the San Luis Rey River through treaties enforced by the United States. Then in 1895, a diversion dam was built on the La Jolla Indian Reservation without their consent, diverting all of the water for the five reservations, to the newly founded City of Escondido. The United States sanctioned that act and until 1967 that went uncontested. Then the newly formed California Indian Legal Services filed a lawsuit on behalf of the tribes. For forty seven years CILS and the tribes have been fighting for the water that used to run through their reservations. Presently, they buy back that water from the City of Escondido. “Once we had a River” uncovers the history of that fight for water.