The Role of Geographic Information Systems in American Indian Land and Water Rights Litigation

Bryan A. Marozas
GIS Coordinator, Bureau of Indian Affairs

The following commentary was written to supply researchers, attorneys, tribal officials, and others involved in American Indian rights protection with information about a tool they can use to their advantage in securing these rights. The commentary promotes the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to help resolve American Indian water and land rights litigation.

In a majority of water and land rights litigation cases, the conveyance of jurisdiction hinges upon the delineation and measurement of various spatial features (i.e. trust lands, allotted land parcels, reacquired lands, timber stands, practicably irrigable acreage and arable land). Since such litigation depends on geographic or spatial data, a tool that manages, analyzes, and displays spatial data would clearly be of value. The commentary will discuss how GIS technology is well suited to provide litigation support. In addition, examples will be provided that portray how a GIS can be and has been used to resolve legal conflicts over rights to land and water.


For more information, please contact:

Bryan A. Marozas
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Albuquerque Area Office
Branch of Natural Resources
615 First St., N.W.
P.O. Box 26567
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87125
Phone: (505)766-3754 FAX: (505)766-1964