Native American Affairs Program

Program Description

Featured Resources:
Overarching Indian Policy
Mission Statements
Goals of the Native American Affairs Program

The Native American Affairs Program, which is a formal program funded through the Native American Affairs line item in Reclamation’s budget, is a small but integral part of the overall "Native American Program."  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; planning and engineering studies; and other activities that facilitate the negotiations and implementation of Indian water rights settlements.

Reclamation is endeavoring to increase the opportunities for federally recognized Indian tribes in the 17 Western States by:

  • Making 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 Secretary of the Interior's Indian Water Rights Settlements Program
  • Providing self-determination and self-governance 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

The Native American Affairs Program is a collaborative, cooperative program with overall leadership and guidance provided by the Commissioner’s Native American and International Affairs Office and program support occurring though Reclamation's Regional and Area Offices.  Reclamation is committed to being respectful of Tribal sovereignty and to upholding its Overarching Indian Policy, which states:

    “The Bureau of Reclamation 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.”  (Indian Policy of the Bureau of Reclamation, February 25, 1998)

  • "Indian Policy of the Bureau of Reclamation," Reclamation Manual Policy NIA P10
    July 24, 2014; Last Minor Revision September 24, 2020 (Adobe PDF)

  • "Authority," Reclamation Manual Policy NIA P10—Appendix A
    July 24, 2014; Last Minor Revision September 24, 2020 (Adobe PDF)

  • U.S. Department of the Interior—The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.

  • Bureau of Reclamation—The mission of the Bureau of Reclamation is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.

  • Native American Affairs Program—The mission of Reclamation’s Native American Affairs Program is to ensure that federally recognized Indian tribes have the opportunity to participate in Reclamation programs in a way that fulfills the Federal responsibility toward tribes, respects tribal sovereignty, and strengthens the unique government-to-government relationship.

  • Execute and implement Federal, Departmental and Bureau laws, policies, and orders to fulfill Federal Indian trust responsibilities.

  • Promote and encourage comprehensive outreach that ensures tribes are informed of Reclamation programs, funding opportunities, technical assistance, and opportunities for effective partnering between Reclamation, tribes, and other
    Federal agencies.

  • Affirm Reclamation’s commitment to properly implementing and supporting the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, Public Law 93-638, Tribal Self-Determination and Self-Governance contracts, grants, and agreements.

Last Updated: 10/5/21