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Tribal Government Relations

The Oregon Water Resources Department 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, the Department 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

The Department 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

The Department 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. 

Annual Reports

The Department submits annual reports of its work with Oregon’s nine Tribal Governments to the Legislative Commission on Indian Services.

Federally Recognized Tribes of Oregon