Native American Programs

The nine Great Plains Region states contain 65 reservations or Indian communities. As with many other parts of the West, the tribes of the Great Plains typically deal with very high unemployment and poverty levels, limited skills in resource management and inadequate infrastructure with which to manage and utilize the water resource of their reservations. The principal objective of the GP Region is to assist the tribes by building their capability to become self-sufficient. The following are the primary aspects of the program.

A 6 inch water line being installed for the Red Shirt Water Line
A 6 inch water line being installed for the Red Shirt Water Line on the Pine Ridge Reservation for the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Project. Photo by Terrance Kvislen (DKAO).

Training –

  • Powerplant apprenticeship
  • Irrigation facilities O&M
  • Water treatment plant operation
  • Summer internships for college students
  • Field instruction in skills such as water quality sampling and construction inspection

Domestic Water Needs Assessments

Assessments for reservations have been completed or are underway:

  • Montana Reservations--Fort Belknap, Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Fort Peck
  • Wyoming – Wind River
  • North Dakota – Fort Berthold, Fort Totten,
  • South Dakota – Standing Rock, Pine Ridge, Lower Brule, Crow Creek, Cheyenne River, Sisseton Wapaton
  • Oklahoma – Kiowa

Technical Assistance

  • Wetland restoration and enhancement
  • Well abandonment
  • Water supply evaluations for future development opportunities (such as fish hatchery on the Blackfeet and coal development on the Crow Reservation in Montana)
  • Water quality assessments, establishment of monitoring programs
  • Hydrologic modeling
The Wambdi Wahachanka Water Treatment Plant showing the pipe gallery below the filter bays.
The Wambdi Wahachanka Water Treatment Plant pipe gallery below the filter bays, part of the Fort Peck Rural Water System.

Water Supply Infrastructure

The Region is providing funding, technical direction and oversight, and training for construction of MR&I water systems on six reservations in North Dakota and South Dakota. These projects respond to the most critical water development need on many GP Region reservations.

As segments of the MR&I water systems are put into service, Reclamation assists the tribes in developing O&M programs, securing facilities and equipment and providing training; the objective being self-sufficiency in providing for each tribe's domestic water needs.

Tribal Reserved Water Rights - To assist the Secretary in carrying out Trust responsibility to tribes, the GP Region is providing Federal team participation and technical support for several settlement negotiations and water right implementation efforts in Montana and Wyoming.

Settlement Negotiations

Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boys Reservation, Montana. Federal team member and technical support. Very active negotiations.

Crow Tribe, Crow Reservation, Montana. Federal team chair and technical support. Tribe is actively preparing its settlement proposal.

Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes of the Fort Belknap Reservation, Montana. Federal team chair and technical support. The Tribes are preparing a new settlement proposal for assessment by the Federal team; anticipate active negotiations in 1996.

Blackfeet Tribe, Blackfeet Reservation, Montana. Federal team member. Negotiations not active at this time.


Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Montana. Federal team member and technical support, lead Federal agency for NEPA compliance. The state water court recently entered the Federal/State/tribal compacted settlement into the adjudication decree, allowing on-the-ground aspects of the settlement to proceed. Construction of storage for a portion of the Tribal water is expected to begin in 1996.

Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming. Discussions are underway between the Tribe, Federal team and State of Wyoming on implementation of the Court decreed reserved right of the Tribes. An interest in Boysen Dam operations may be a component of the implementation agreement.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Assistance

The GP Region is assisting the BIA Facilities Management and Construction Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with the facilities listed below. The initial request was for a total of 11 facilities throughout the western U.S. (Reclamation's Denver Technical Service Center is coordinating this effort since BIA wanted to have one point of contact within the organization).

The first work request requires Reclamation to select an architectural/engineering consulting firm from a pool of BIA Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contractors that would conduct an on-site assessment of the life safety and handicap accessibility deficiencies and prepare a report documenting their findings and the associated construction cost estimate for correcting the deficiencies.

BIA Work Request No. 2 requires Reclamation to provide specifications either through its own forces (as in the case of American Horse/Allen Elementary School), but primarily through the IDIQ contractor, for the construction work at these locations. The IDIQ contractors will provide construction management at the sites, TSC will provide management of the IDIQ contractor and a contracting officer for the work, and the GP Region is providing onsite review to assure a quality product is achieved.

BIA Work Request No. 3 added Project No. 93A05, New Town Headquarters, Fort Berthold Agency, New Town, North Dakota, with similar requirements as Work Request No. 2.

BIA Work Requests No. 4 and 5 will provide for assisting BIA in the design and construction of fire detection and suppression systems for dormitories at numerous locations. Of 185 facilities needing different levels of installation, there are 33 in 13 different locations in the GP Region. On the priority list of projects identified by BIA, priorities 2 through 4 and 8 through 10 are part of the 13 different locations which will require our early involvement.

Last Updated: 6/30/15