The villages of Sili and Ga'utavai in Samoa have decided to register their rivers under the Customary lands act at the Lands and Titles court.
The move is in defiance of proposed legislation which puts all rivers and streams under the government's authority through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
The legislation is being considered by a parliamentary committee before it goes back to the house for further debate.
The villagers believe the rivers are part of their customary land and government has no legal power to take it away from them.
The rivers in Sili and Ga'utavai on Savaii Island, were at the centre of a government hydro power project that was never implemented because of concerns by the villagers of environmental impacts.