Return to Table of Contents


On tribal lands, dominant uses of water include agriculture, recreation, municipal and industrial, and social, cultural, and religious purposes. Tribes also support water use for fish and wildlife and other environmental goals.

There are approximately 560 federally recognized tribes within the United States—306 in the conterminous 48 states, with 289 of those west of the Mississippi River where 95 percent of all tribal trust land is located. The Department of the Interior notes that tribal lands, including official reservations, currently cover about 55 million acres, or roughly three percent of the country except for Alaska and Hawaii. The largest area is the Navajo Nation, while some federally recognized tribes have no land. The states with the highest tribal populations are Oklahoma, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.

By any measure, the scope of tribal drought issues in the West is immense. Tribes have experienced the vagaries of climate on this continent for many thousands of years, and more recent 
Return to Table of Contents
| (continue)

14 National Drought Policy Commission Report