Document Type



South Dakota Law Review




Development of individually-held reservation lands for agriculture, mining, or commerce almost always depends on a supply of water. Thus, it is essential that owners of land within a reservation have some certainty of their water rights. No statute or other source, however, expressly defines water rights on Indian allotments. This article attempts to define those water rights by examining the allotment policy and legislation in light of the reserved water rights doctrine. The author concludes that no reserved rights may be held by individuals, but that during the period of trust some of those rights may be used by allottees. Upon passing out of trust an Indian or non-Indian owner should have rights recognized within the hierarchy of water rights established by appropriation, based on the dates and quantities of appropriations actually made on the land during the trust period.