Indian Reserved Water Rights
The Winters Doctrine in Its Social and Legal Context
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
352 Pages | 6 x 9 | 2 maps
In its 1908 decision for Winters v. United States, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower-court ruling that the United States and the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Indians had reserved rights to water in the Milk River through an 1888 treaty which created the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. Since 1908 the Winters decision, or Indian reserved water rights doctrine, has played an important and controversial role in the West.
Indian Reserved Water Rights is the first book-length historical study of the Winters case and the early use of the reserved water doctrine. In the book, John Shurts explains how the litigation and its outcome fit well within the existing legal context and into ongoing efforts at water development in the Milk River Valley. He also examines the life of the Winters Doctrine during its earliest years, primarily through a study of water-rights litigation on the Uintah Reservation in Utah.