Water is Life
Drought has been a common occurrence on the Reservation throughout history, and the future impacts of climate change present concerns for the future livelihood and health of the region. Tribal lands suffer during frequent drought cycles that reduce available water supplies, especially since tribal water storage has not been developed.
Prior to the Reservation’s establishment, the Ute Indian Tribe’s ancestors utilized water for all purposes necessary to sustain their nomadic hunting and gathering-based lives. In particular, they valued wildlife habitat areas as hunting and fishing grounds, and natural flowing streams and springs played a part in religious and cultural practices. Irrigation has been practiced by the Ute Indians for many years since the Uintah Valley and Uncompahgre Reservations were established. Because the United States government, acting through Indian agents, had the expectation that the members of the Ute Indian Tribe would cultivate crops and farm Reservation lands, several small irrigation ditches and farmlands totaling close to 6,000 acres of land were cultivated and irrigated on the Uintah Valley Reservation in the Lake Fork River and Uinta River Basins.