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Tribal Government Relations

The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) works with Oregon's nine federally recognized Indian Tribes on issues related to water supply, watershed management, and water distribution, including water rights held or claimed by the Tribes and/or tribal members.

In 1997, OWRD adopted a Government-to-Government policy statement that focused on two main points: we must honor and protect existing tribal rights to use water, and we must continue to forge partnerships to share responsibility for water management. Those partnerships are improved through regular communication and participation in the Natural Resources Working Group and the Cultural Resources Cluster Group.

Water Rights

OWRD is engaged in ongoing discussions with some of the Tribes on issues related to water rights and administration of water resources. Activities are generally conducted under Executive Order 96-30, or specific provisions of federal and state law.  In 2001, the Oregon Legislature turned the executive order into law with Senate Bill 770.

Water Management and Water Use Regulation

OWRD works with Tribes to plan and implement strategies for streamflow restoration and riparian protection on both reservation lands and other regions of interest to tribal communities. These strategies may include streamflow measurement and monitoring, enforcement on illegal water uses, and the transfer or lease of out-of-stream water rights to instream water rights for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and water quality. 

In September of 2021, the nine Sovereign Tribes of Oregon wrote Governor Brown addressing the state of Oregon’s 100-year Water Vision. In response, Governor Brown directed the Oregon Water Resources Department along with members of her team to help organize and convene a Tribal Water Task Force (Task Force). The Task Force met five times during the summer and fall of 2022. Now, they have released a summary report of their findings and recommendations. Learn more about this by viewing the report here.

Annual Reports

Annually, OWRD submits a Government-to-Government Report to Oregon's Legislative Commission on Indian Services, summarizing OWRD work with Oregon's nine Tribal Governments.

Federally Recognized Tribes of Oregon