Indian Tribal Rights to Groundwater

16 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2008

See all articles by Judith Royster

Judith Royster

University of Tulsa College of Law


There are a number of methods or analyses under which Indian tribes may claim rights to groundwater. Several tribes have asserted rights to groundwater as part of their federally-reserved water rights under the Winters doctrine. Untested so far is an alternative theory of reserved rights under the Shoshone rule that constituent elements of trust land are, like the land itself, held in trust for the tribes. In addition, state law groundwater rights, based on ownership or use, should be available to tribes that wish to assert them. And finally, several water settlement acts address tribal rights to groundwater as well as surface water. This article surveys those approaches to Indian rights to groundwater.

Keywords: Indian water rights, tribal water rights, reserved water rights, groundwater, water rights

Suggested Citation

Royster, Judith, Indian Tribal Rights to Groundwater. Kansas Journal of Law & Pubic Policy, Vol. 15, p. 489, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Judith Royster (Contact Author)

University of Tulsa College of Law ( email )

3120 E. Fourth Place
Tulsa, OK 74104
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics