USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Office of Tribal Relations

Maps, Imagery, and Publications Hazards Newsroom Education Jobs Partnerships Library About USGS Social Media

U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives
Fiscal Year 1998

Table of Contents | Tribal Governments | Organizations/Events | States | Introduction | Education | Environment | Resources | Technical Assistance | General Coordination and Policy | Future Opportunities | Contacts |

Resource Activities

Resolving Conflicts Concerning Mining Activities. Visiting officials from the Government of Suriname met with USGS scientists to discuss mining operations in the U.S. that could serve as models for development in Suriname. The Government of Suriname was also interested in resolving conflicts between large mining companies and Indigenous peoples regarding development of gold deposits. A USGS scientist put the Surinamese officials in contact with resource specialists in the Bureau of Indian Affairs to help the Surinamese learn about issues concerning indigenous peoples and resource extraction on Indian lands in the U.S. Through discussions with the BIA the officials were given examples of problem resolution, contract development for resource extraction on Indian lands, and public relations. A continuing relationship among USGS and BIA minerals staffs developed from this meeting. Contact: Don Bleiwas, 303-236-8747,

Characterization of Water Resources at Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The objective of the study is to conduct a water-resources appraisal of Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Lands. The study includes information on surface and ground-water quality, and water levels in wells, lakes, ponds, and wetlands, and from other data-collection sites. Contact: Jim Nicholas, 517- 887-8903,

Water Resources of Bonifas Creek and Adjacent Wetlands. The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians needs water resources information for Bonifas Creek and its adjacent wetlands near their lands in Watersmeet, Michigan. Of particular interest are the background water quality of Bonifas Creek and the travel time for water through about 160 acres of wetlands between the Tribal land and the creek. The objective of this study is to evaluate the water quality of Bonifas Creek and the hydrology of adjacent wetlands. Contact: Jim Nicholas, 517-887-8903,

Water Resources on the Reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The objective of this cooperative study is to further define the local and regional ground-water flow system in the northern part of the Bad River Indian Reservation. Information gathered to characterize the hydrogeologic framework will provide the basis for current and future site-specific investigations concerned with long-term water-resource and water-quality trends. The hydrogeologic framework will be characterized by drilling boreholes at three sites, conducting geophysical surveys, rock core analysis and packer testing of the aquifer at selected sites and depths. The characterization of the hydrogeologic framework also lays the foundation for numerical modeling in the future. Water quality will be evaluated at selected sites and depths. Contact: Jim Krohelski, 608-821-3850,

Study of Environmental Contaminants. A copper-zinc sulfide mine is being developed upstream of Sokaogon Chippewa Community's lands near Crandon, Wisconsin. Fishery biologists from the USGS' Mid-Continent Ecological Science Center were asked to assist the Tribe in determining the aquatic baseline conditions. The USGS scientists created a data base for the Tribe that will be the foundation of a risk assessment and Environmental Impact Analysis of the environmental impacts of the mine. Assistance to the Tribe will be provided through September 1999. Contact: Director, Mid-Continent Ecological Science Center, 970-226-9100,

Migratory Needs of Sturgeon. USGS scientists continued research for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin on fish passage needs of two migratory species of sturgeon. Assistance was provided by the USGS' S. O. Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory, partially funded by the Great Lakes Foundation, and supported by the States of Wisconsin and Michigan. Contact: Steve McCormick, 413-863-9475, ext. 31,

Water Resources of Specific Indian Communities. Detailed information of the water resources of four Indian communities is necessary for the efficient use, management, and protection of these resources. These studies will evaluate the availability and quality of surface and ground water for domestic and municipal use. The American Indian communities are Nett Lake (Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe), Prairie Island Dakota Community, Lower Sioux Mdewakanton, and Upper Sioux Community. Contact: James Ruhl, 612-783-3252,

Hydrogeology of the Grand Portage Indian Reservation. The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has identified two critical issues regarding the management, use, and protection of ground water on their Reservation. Information about the hydrogeology and water quality of the aquifers on the Reservation currently is limited to a regional-scale description determined from a reconnaissance-level investigation. Tribal officials need more specific information about local ground-water conditions in order to better deal with these issues. The objectives of the project are to determine the general availability and quality of ground water with special emphasis on designated development areas and to evaluate the potential for aquifer contamination from on-land waste disposal sites. Contact: Tom Winterstein, 612-783-3150,

Long-Term Monitoring on the Spirit Lake Sioux. Rising surface waters have caused significant disruption to living conditions on the lands of the Spirit Lake Tribe. The purpose of this study is to establish a monitoring program that would provide the Spirit Lake Tribe with data that could be used to determine changes in the hydrologic and water-quality conditions on the Reservation. The objectives are to: (1) Develop a long- term program to monitor the water levels and water quality in selected lakes and wetlands on the Reservation, and (2) Develop a long- term program to monitor ground-water levels and water quality in the Spiritwood, Tokio, and Warwick aquifers. Contact: Douglas G. Emerson, 701-250-7402,

Surface and Ground Water Resources of Lake Traverse Reservation. The objective of the study is to collect the necessary hydrologic data to evaluate the surface-and ground-water resources of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe's Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota and North Dakota and of Roberts County in South Dakota. More specifically, the assessment will determine the location, depth, and quality, and quantity of water in the study area and the effects of surface-and ground-water interactions, recharge and, discharge on the hydrologic system. Additional efforts have recently been initiated to assess water and bed-sediment chemistry in the Cheyenne and Moreau Rivers. Contact: Ryan Thompson,605-353-7176 x225,

Quantity and Quality of Water Resources of the lands of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Water quality is poor in some areas of the Cheyenne River Reservation. Many residents obtain drinking water from sources that are not of adequate quality. This study intends to give water managers better information to improve the quality of drinking water to Cheyenne River Reservation residents. The project will describe the variability of streamflow within and adjacent to the Reservation and determine selected aquifer properties. Surface and ground water qualities will be described and characterized, including their suitability as drinking-water sources, livestock watering, and irrigation. Project personnel will inventory water use for selected areas within the Reservation. The study will describe temporal trends in water quality for the Cheyenne and Moreau Rivers and will develop a generalized hydrologic budget for the Reservation. Contact: Allen Heakin, 605-355-4560 x216,

Water Supply and Water-Quality Assessment of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Drinking water for the 13,200 residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is obtained primarily from shallow wells. Northwestern parts of the Reservation lack a reliable drinking-water supply, and water-quality problems exist at scattered locations across the Oglala Sioux Tribal lands. There is great concern among the leaders of the Oglala Sioux Tribe that some of the drinking water consumed on the Reservation is adversely affecting human health. A comprehensive assessment of the supply and quality of Reservation water has been initiated. Preliminary results of water-quality sampling indicate drinking water does not meet standards in some public supply wells. Contact: Allen Heakin, 605-355-4560 x216,

Water Resources of Mellette and Todd Counties, South Dakota. A water-resources investigation of Mellette and Todd Counties recently was completed. An investigation of elevated arsenic concentrations in ground water in the Grass Mountain area of the Rosebud Indian Reservation also was completed. Several proposals have been submitted to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe for additional studies of their lands. The proposals include additional arsenic studies in other areas of the Reservation, a ground-water flow model, and a well inventory of abandoned wells in Todd County. Contact: Janet Carter, 605-355-4560 x215,

Ground-Water Resources Reconnaissance of the Osage Reservation. A cooperative program with the Osage Nation is providing data and information to the Osage from an areal survey of the quality and availability of ground water in the Reservation. The program is also comparing data describing ground-water quality to land use. Contact: Marvin M. Abbott, 405-810-4411,

Mineral Exploration in Montana. A USGS geologist is developing a database of exploration activities in Montana. Data on non-fuel activities on Indian lands was provided by BIA minerals specialists. Contact: Don Bleiwas, 303-236-8747,

Surface-Water Resources of the Blackfeet Reservation. The surface-water resources of the Blackfeet Reservation include pristine mountain streams, glacial lakes, and prairie wetlands. These resources are of considerable cultural and economic importance to the Blackfeet Tribe. The high quality surface waters of the Blackfeet lands support diverse populations of fish and wildlife, are widely used for stock watering and irrigation, and supply drinking water for many residents. The purpose of this study is to analyze and describe the surface-water resources of the major river basins of the Blackfeet Reservation. Contact: Mike Cannon, 406-441-1319,

Availability of Ground Water for the Crow Tribe. Recent concerns about water availability for the Crow Tribe have necessitated a detailed description of the water resources of the Crow Indian Reservation. Ground water in the alluvial and terrace deposits in the Little Bighorn River Basin is an important resource of the Crow Reservation. The study, funded by the BIA, and conducted by the USGS, will describe the general quality of the ground water in the alluvial and terrace deposits, and the potential availability of ground water from bedrock aquifers. More specifically, objectives of the project include describing the geometry and hydraulic characteristics of the alluvial and terrace deposits and the potentiometric surface and general directions of ground-water flow. The sources of recharge and discharge of the Little Bighorn River and its hydraulic interactions with other hydrogeologic units, irrigation canals, etc. will also be parts of the investigation. Contact: Lori Tuck, 406-441-1319,

Water-use on the Blackfeet and Crow Lands. Water-use data are needed to administer various laws governing water use, appropriation, and allocation. Water-development planning requires current water use data to evaluate various alternatives for expanded or revised use patterns. Water-use information was determined for portions of the of the Blackfeet and Crow Reservations. Contact: Charles Parrett, 406-441-1319,

Research on Zuni Pueblo. In past years, the Zuni Pueblo has participated in the Biological Resource Division's Gap Analysis Project in New Mexico. In Fiscal Year 1998, scientists from the USGS' New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit met with Zuni representatives to identify areas of potential joint research in issues related to this continuing endeavor. Contact: New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 505-646-6053,

Selected oil-producing formations on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. This DoE-funded study is focusing on evaluating the nature, spatial distribution, structural development, and oil hydrocarbon production potential of sandstone reservoirs The study is focusing on the Mesaverde Formation and the El Vado Sandstone Member of the Mancos Shale on Jicarilla Tribal Lands. The work involves synthesizing existing data and adding new interpretations based on descriptions and measurements of outcrops and evaluation of a large array of seismic data. Identification and mapping of these reservoir changes from surface and subsurface data will give the Tribal Energy Department the tools to assess and properly exploit the reservoirs within the context of both exploration and secondary or tertiary recovery programs. Understanding the nature of the heterogeneous geometry of these units will also enable us to further evaluate the potential for low-contrast, low-resistivity units that could contain by-passed hydrocarbons and to develop working models that would assist the Tribe to recognize and evaluate them in future exploration programs. Transfer of digital data and base maps in digital form to the Tribe are an ongoing component of the study. Contact: Jennie Ridgley, 303-236-9048,

Navajo Surface Water Project. The Navajo Nation and the USGS are collaborating to help the Navajo Nation's Water Resources Department (NNWRD) improve their water management practices. The USGS is assisting the NNWRD compute streamflow records from Navajo streamflow gaging stations by jointly creating a database to compute and store streamflow data. The USGS is providing training in record computation and is assisting with rating curve development. The NNWRD and the USGS are working together to provide quality assurance. Contact: Gregory G. Fisk, 520-556-7225,

Black Mesa Monitoring Program. Two programs are underway near Black Mesa. The first, the Black Mesa monitoring program, on the lands of the Navajo Nation, is designed to document long-term effects of ground-water pumping from the N aquifer by industrial and municipal users. The N aquifer is the major source of water for the 5,400 square mile Black Mesa area. The other program is a geochemical analysis of groundwater ages, recharge rates, and hydrologic conductivity of the N aquifer. The objectives of this interpretive study are to characterize the water quality of the N aquifer and use geochemistry to develop a conceptual ground-water flow model. The interpretive study will also determine if leakage is occurring from the D aquifer. Both the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation will apply these findings to their individual plans for use of N Aquifer. A long-term hydrological monitoring plan has been proposed for the N and D aquifers. Contact: (Monitoring study) Greg Littin, 520-556-7255,; (Interpretive study): Bill Steinkampf, 520-670-6671 x 269,

Preliminary Assessment of Hydrologic Conditions in Part of the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. The USGS is conducting a preliminary assessment to estimate the quantity of surface-water flowing in Vamori and San Simon Washes. The assessment includes construction, testing, and calibration of load-cell scour sensors. The USGS and the Tohono O'odham Nation are working together to develop a plan for a more intensive study along the southern border of the Reservation. This study will evaluate the effects of future ground-water withdrawals and agricultural development on hydrologic conditions within the Reservation. Contact: Michael C. Carpenter, 520-760-6671x275,

Hydrologic Studies in Snake River Basin. Hydrologic data for streams and associated subbasins within the Salmon and Clearwater River Basins were analyzed to support instream flow claims made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on behalf of the Nez Perce Tribe. These claims are part of the adjudication of the Snake River Basin by the State of Idaho. The purpose of the study was to classify subbasins and make estimates of mean annual and mean monthly discharges for subbasins within the study area. A related study was done concurrently, with the objective of developing a methodology for estimating flow duration values for subbasins within the study area. Reports for both these studies have been approved for publication. Contact: Steve Lipscomb, 208-387-1321,

Fallon Shallow Aquifer Model. Changes in the quantity and location of surface water deliveries and application are being proposed as part of the Newlands Project near Fallon, Nevada. A ground-water model, assessing the potential effects of these proposed changes on ground-water levels and quality, is being completed in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation. Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe has land and agricultural interests in this location and are subject to potential impacts as land-use changes take place in the vicinity. Contact: Terry Rees, 775-887-7635,

Subsurface Flow in Clear Creek Watershed. The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California has tribal lands that lie within the Clear Creek Watershed. Understanding the recharge mechanisms and ground-water flow path in this watershed is important for the Tribe's quantification of their water resources. The objective of this project was to drill a monitoring well at a critical area in the watershed to determine the water level. This information is to be incorporated into the interpretation of the basin-wide flow system. Contact: Terry Rees, 775-887-7635,

Intermittent Recharge. This study is re-evaluating the source and magnitude of ground-water recharge to Eagle Valley, Nevada, in which lies the State capital (Carson City), the Carson Community of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, and other lands of the Washoe Tribe. The project is a cooperative effort between the USGS, Carson City, and the Washoe Tribe. To date, project results have included defining the relationships between stream temperature and water infiltration rates, and revising (increasing) estimates of natural recharge to the alluvial aquifers. These results have enabled Carson City to better manage infiltration facilities for ground-water allocation from the State Engineer. Fiscal Year 1998 activities included data acquisition and interpretation, and the initial draft of a Water Resources Investigations Report. Contact: Terry Rees, 775-887-7635,

Nevada Basin and Range National Water Quality Assessment. This National Water Quality Assessment project includes the Carson and Truckee River basins in northwestern Nevada and Las Vegas Valley in southern Nevada. Information on ground-water quality in Las Vegas Valley is important to the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, which is developing tourism as an economic base and depends upon the Las Vegas Valley alluvial aquifers for its water supply. Other water-quality data for streams and aquifers in the Truckee and Carson basins are of importance to the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California (Carson River and Lake Tahoe Basins, described elsewhere in this report) and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (lower Truckee River). Contact: Hugh Bevans, 702-887-7688,

Assistance on Salmon Research. The USGS' Oregon Cooperative Research Unit worked with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission on a research, monitoring, and evaluation project titled "Avian Predation on Juvenile Salmonids in the Lower Columbia River." The project examined the extent of predation on endangered salmon smolts by water birds as well as efforts to mitigate the predation. Two Inter-Tribal biologists were employed full-time on the study, and Tribal members were also hired as seasonal technicians. Contact: Director, Oregon Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, 541-737-1938,

Habitat Evaluation. Construction of dams by the Bonneville Power Administration on the Columbia River will affect the habitat of Indian fisheries. At the request of the Pacific Northwest Power Planning Council, USGS biologists prepared and conducted sessions for Tribes on the procedures for evaluating impacts of dam construction on fishery habitats. The methodology developed by the scientists will be used to measure adverse impacts and provide the means for estimating monetary compensation for affected Tribes. Representatives of the Spokane, Kalispel, Burns-Paiute, and Nez Perce Tribes, and the Yakama Nation attended as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Contact: Director, Mid-Continent Ecological Science Center, 970-226-9100,

Water Quality and Quantity for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians uses groundwater as their main water supply. The long-term sustainablility and water quality of the ground-water resources are being determined in a cooperative project between the Morongo Band and the USGS. The Morongo Band collected water-level data that are being evaluated by the USGS to determine the relationships between pumping and draw-down of water in the ground-water reservoir. The USGS is studying the geohydrology and geochemistry of these groundwater reservoirs, with work focusing on Potrero Canyon and the Cabazon Storage Unit. The physical dimensions of the Cabazon storage unit were studied by the USGS using geophysical techniques. A report on the results will be given to the Morongo Band by the end of 1999. Monitoring wells were drilled to gather data on the water quality and hydraulic characteristics of the Cabazon unit. These will be used to gather data over many years. Wells in Portero Canyon and springs in Hathaway and Millard Canyons have been sampled for water quality and other characteristics. This sampling, which will continue in the Cabazon unit in Fiscal Year 1999, will help the USGS determine the source and age of ground water in the area. Contact: Peter Martin, 619-637-6827,

The contacts provided in the report were accurate at the time of publication. Please refer to the USGS Employee Directory or the Office of Tribal Relations contact page if you require information about a specific activity.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 27-Feb-2013 07:50:11 EST