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Arizona Water Science Center

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AzWSC Tribal Programs

Map showing tribes in Arizona

At present, there are 564 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages ( in the United States. Arizona is home to 21 tribes of which 19 are federally recognized. Their reservation lands comprise over a quarter of the State of Arizona (figure 1) and their population represents about 7% of Arizona’s total population.

The largest reservation land mass (over 18,000 square miles) and the second largest Indian Tribe (population of 269,202, in the U.S. is the Navajo. The Navajo reservation encompasses approximately 18,000 square miles in northeastern Arizona and stretches into Utah and New Mexico. The Tribe manages a network of streamflow and precipitation gages on their reservation. The AzWSC has worked cooperatively with the Tribe for decades, and continues to provide technical support to their water-resource personnel.

The smallest Indian Tribe (population 36, 2000 Census) in Arizona (it actually is located in Arizona and California, spanning the Colorado River) is the Fort Yuma-Quechan Tribe located near Yuma, Arizona. The AzWSC does not have a direct cooperative program with this tribe, but much of the work the AzWSC does on the lower Colorado River benefits this tribe and other tribes that rely on the river for sustainability.

The tribe that is the most remote in the state is the Havasupai Indian Tribe in northern Arizona. For over 1,000 years, tribal members have lived in the Grand Canyon along the blue-green waters of Havasu Creek. Access to Supai Village in the heart of Havasu Canyon (a tributary to the Colorado River), is by helicopter, by Supai ponies, or hiking a 12 mile trail from the rim to the village. Mail delivery to the Supai Post Office, is the only horse pack train mail in America ( The AzWSC currently operates a springflow gage above Supai Village, that provides a record of regional groundwater discharge that occurs from the Coconino Plateau. Also, the AzWSC operates two flood-alert gages above the village of Supai at Heather Wash and further upstream in Cataract Canyon at Redlands Dam.

The Hopi Tribe in northern Arizona, is considered the “oldest of the native people” (Hopi Cultural Center, It is home to Oraibi Village, one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements within the U.S., dating before the year 1100 AD. Their reservation is located in the heart of the Navajo Indian Reservation and encompasses about 2,400 square miles. The AzWSC has had long history and cooperative program with Hopi Department of Water Resources. Currently the AzWSC operates streamflow stations for the tribe and is evaluating groundwater availability and quality in the Moenkopi Villages area of the reservation.

The Arizona Water Science Center works cooperatively with many tribal governments in Arizona to assist tribes with water-resource related issues (table 1).

Table 1. Current (as of 2010) list of cooperative programs with or assistance to Arizona Tribes.
Tribe Purpose of Program
Hualapai Tribe Stream and springflow monitoring
Havasupai Tribe Springflow monitoring
Kaibab Band of the Paiute Groundwater monitoring
Yavapai-Prescott Tribe Streamflow monitoring
Hopi Tribe Streamflow monitoring and special groundwater studies
Navajo Nation Technical assistance relating to streamflow gaging and records computation
Pueblo of Zuni Streamflow and sediment discharge monitoring
White Mountain Apache Tribe Streamflow flood warning and technical assistance
Tohono O’odham Nation Streamflow monitoring
San Carlos Apache Provide reviews of groundwater quantity and quality data related to surface mining

Some of the main water issues that tribes are facing include: 1) Availability of and access to drinking water, 2) Quality of water, 3) Effects of climate change on sustainability of water resources, 4) Water-resource management, 5) Water rights, and 6) training of tribal staff in monitoring and management of hydrologic data. Much of the work the AzWSC does for tribes and for other rural areas in Arizona, are directed toward providing information pertaining to these issues for water management purposes. To help address these issues, the AzWSC currently operates 20 streamflow or springflow gages on or near tribal lands (table 2). Data for these sites can be accessed at

Table 2. Current (as of 2010) listing of streamflow or springflow monitoring sites in Arizona used to address tribal water-resource issues.
SiteID Name
09379200 Chinle Creek near Mexican Water, AZ
09385700 Little Colorado River below Salado Springs near St. Johns, AZ
09386250 Carrizo Wash near St. Johns, AZ
09386300 Little Colorado River below Zion Reservoir near St. Johns, AZ
09400562 Oraibi Wash near Tolani Lake, AZ
09400568 Polacca Wash near Second Mesa, AZ
09401110 Dinnebito Wash near Sand Springs, AZ
09401260 Moenkopi Wash near Moenkopi, AZ
09401265 Pasture Canyon Springs near Tuba City, AZ
09404104 Cataract Creek at Redlands Crossing near Valle, AZ
09404107 Cataract Creek below Heather Wash near Supai, AZ
09404110 Havasu Creek at Supai, AZ
09404208 Diamond Creek near Peach Springs, AZ
09404222 Spencer Creek near Peach Springs, AZ
09404343 Truxton Wash near Valentine, AZ
09402000 Little Colorado River near Cameron, AZ
09502960 Granite Creek at Prescott, AZ
09503000 Granite Creek near Prescott, AZ
09497700 Cibecue Creek near Overgaard, AZ
09535100 San Simon Wash near Pisinimo, AZ

For more information about AzWSC Tribal Programs, please contact Bob Hart (; 928-556-7137, Chris Smith (; 520-670-6671x251, or Jim Leenhouts (, 520-670-6671x278). Additional information about U.S. Geological Survey tribal activities, publications, and training can be obtained at:

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Page Last Modified: Monday, 26-May-2014 17:57:04 EDT