Impact of natural resource extraction on tribal land
Extraction affects tribal economies in a number of ways, though the effects can vary widely depending on the level of extraction on a given reservation and the details of the lease agreement.
Little data exists to measure the economic impact of extraction on tribal economies, both at the tribal and individual levels and at the aggregate national level.
Gross domestic product and jobs
The Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau do not collect tribal-specific information related to the extractive industries. The closest indicator for the extractive industries’ effect on tribal economies comes from the Department of the Interior’s Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2015 (PDF). See page 22 of this annual report for estimates of the direct economic contribution, total economic contribution, and total value added by DOI’s activities, as well as the total number of domestic jobs supported by those activities.
In addition to generating revenue and creating jobs, extractives production also brings associated costs to tribal communities. No information could be found on costs to tribes associated with water, emergency services, or transportation.
The Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program governs reclamation on tribal lands, as it does on all lands in the United States.
Reclamation activity has occurred or needs to occur on 17 reservations. Three tribes have had the most extensive reclamation activity in the past: the Crow, Hopi, and Navajo. These tribes also regulate their own AML programs. These three tribes are all certified, meaning they have reclaimed all of their Priority 1 and 2 AML sites and may now use AML funds for a wider range of activities.
AML reclamation work has been conducted with 14 additional tribes that do not regulate their own AML programs. These tribes, and states like them, are called non-primacy tribes. The majority of identified reclamation has occurred; only five tribes (plus the Navajo Nation) have unfunded reclamation needs.
OSMRE’s annual evaluation reports on tribal AML programs provide more information on the state and history of each AML program, including its status, unfunded costs, and completed costs. The OSMRE FY2017 Grant Distribution Report (PDF) provides data about 2017 grants.