Native American Affairs

Native American Affairs Program Description

The mission of Reclamation's Native American Program is to make the benefits of the Reclamation Program available to Indian Tribes and to fulfill Reclamation's Indian Trust responsibilities.

The “Native American Program” is an informal term frequently used to refer collectively to all of Reclamation’s activities benefitting federally recognized Indian tribes. Native American Program activities have included such efforts as: irrigation projects; municipal, industrial and rural water systems; dam construction; safety of dams; drought relief; emergency assistance; other planning and engineering studies; and other activities which facilitate the negotiations and implementation of Indian water rights settlements.

Reclamation is endeavoring to increase the opportunities for federally recognized Tribes in the 17 Western states by:

  • Making Reclamation’s resources available to assist tribal governments to protect, manage, and develop their water and related resources
  • Supporting the United States’ Indian trust responsibility
  • Coordinating and executing a technical assistance program with tribes
  • Providing support for the Interior Secretary’s Indian water rights settlement program
  • Providing Self-governance and Self-determination opportunities for eligible activities to interested Tribes
  • Providing training to improve the technical expertise of Tribes to develop and manage their water and related resources
  • Educating Reclamation employees to work more effectively with tribes
In fiscal year (FY) 2010, about $208 million, or 20% of Reclamation’s enacted budget of $1,053 million, were used for work benefitting Tribes.  Of this $208 million, about $113 million (54%) was for work carried out under Title I or Title IV of P.L. 93-638, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.  Additionally, in FY2009-FY2010 about $220 million, or 23%, of Reclamation’s $950 million Recovery Act funds were used for work benefitting Tribes.  Of this, about $181 million (82%) was carried out under P.L. 93-638.

Reclamation’s Native American Program is a collaborative, cooperative program, with overall leadership and guidance provided by the Commissioner’s Native American and International Affairs Office and project implementation generally occurring though the regional or area offices.  Reclamation is committed to being respectful of Tribal sovereignty and to upholding its overarching Indian policy, which states that it will “comply with both the letter and the spirit of Federal laws and policies relating to Indians; acknowledge and affirm the special relationship between the United States and Federally recognized Indian tribes; and actively seek partnerships with Indian tribes to ensure that tribes have the opportunity to participate fully in the Reclamation Program as they develop and manage their water and related resources.”

For a printable fact sheet on Reclamation’s Native American Program, click here

Last Updated: 6/10/15