Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2013


Great Plains Research 23.1 (Spring 2013).


Copyright © 2013 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


As one who took an early interest in the water rights of American Indian tribes (American Indian Water Rights and the Limits of Law, 1991), I found this book a welcome opportunity to get current on an enduring yet ever-changing area of western water law. In reading it, I was impressed both by what it is and what it is not.

What It Is. This is primarily a report on the proceedings of a conference that the American Indian Law Center and the University of New Mexico's Utton Transboundary Resources Center convened on the centennial anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's history-making decision in Winters v. United States. In a stunning example of judge-made western federal natural resource management law, a century ago the high court reasoned that whenever the federal government set aside (reserved) lands in the public domain for some specific purpose (in this case, an American Indian reservation), it also by implication laid claim to however much unappropriated water was needed to fulfill the purposes for which the lands were reserved.