Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



This research examines the Rights-of-Way process for Navajo allotment lands. Today, there are 566 Indian nations. Each nation has its own history relating to Indian allotment lands. In the 1880s, allotment lands were created through federal Indian policy as tribal trust lands were allotted to individual Indian tribal members of various nations. This research examines a real example of the Rights-of-Way process for Navajo allotment lands as it relates to the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Land access for allotment lands is questionable. Water access for the Water Supply Project secured and supplied through the recent Navajo Nation San Juan River Water Rights Settlement. The water pipeline alignment will cross six types of land. Each type has its own Rights-of-Way process. This research will examine the current Rights-of-Way process for Navajo allotment lands. This research applied three methods to identify the current Rights-of-Way process for allotment lands. A document review for existing federal and tribal policy for allotment lands finds that the Navajo Nation does not have authority over allotment lands. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has authority over allotment lands. For Navajo allotment lands, the Rights-of-Way process is initiated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the Water Supply Project. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will approve or disapprove Rights-of-Way easement. The results show the current Rights-of-Way process for Navajo allotment land is quite general. After examination, the research identifies areas of improvement for the current the Rights-of-Way process. This research provides recommendations to improve and update the current Rights-of-Way process starting with a better framework to understand the Rights-of-Way process for Navajo allotment lands.

Language (ISO)



rights-of-way, Navajo allotment lands


A Professional Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, at the University of New Mexico.