Tribal Lands & Natural Resources

Tribal governments control millions of acres of land throughout the West. Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada and Wyoming have over 160 federally recognized tribes with over 28 million acres of Tribal Lands and over 60 different Tribes, Pueblos and other Tribal entities. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie's lawyers understand that Tribal lands are rich in natural resources and include reserves of oil, gas, uranium, coal, timber, water and other minerals and resources. Our lawyers also know that Tribal lands have great potential to generate significant renewable resources—estimated at over 9,000 MW-- through wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and geothermal and solar energy. Tribal water settlements, which clarify Indian water allocations, secure key roles for Tribal governments as ongoing and powerful players in the future use of this scarce resource in the growth and development of the Southwest.

When dealing with Tribal lands and Tribal natural resources, businesses and their lawyers must recognize that the Tribes are considered separate governmental entities with their own laws, regulations and courts. Indeed many tribes have established separate business entities to manage resource development on, and off, tribal lands. This additional layer of regulatory and business oversight gives rise to unique challenges for both Tribal and non-Tribal parties. A complex set of federal and Tribal laws and regulations govern many aspects of life and business and resource development on Tribal lands. In some substantive areas, state or county laws may also be applicable.

Understanding the legal, historical and cultural backgrounds which have influenced opinions and shaped philosophies and perspectives for generations as an essential part of transacting business involving Tribal entities and Tribal natural resources is a core component of Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie's work in this area. The effects of decades of antiquated laws, inefficient and ineffective government administration and inequitable dealings must also be understood. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie’s attorneys understand the laws and these unique historical, cultural and social aspects. As a result, we successfully represent both Tribal and non-Tribal clients in a wide variety of natural resources, energy and economic development matters and transactions.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie’s lawyers’ in depth knowledge of the specialized federal and Tribal laws and our substantive experience in environmental, water, natural resources, renewable energy, leasing and mining law combine to effectively represent our Tribal and non-Tribal clients. When required, we call on the strong knowledge base of the lawyers in our tribal affairs, real estate, commercial, finance, government relations, gaming and litigation groups to assist and advise our clients. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie lawyers know that succeeding in matters involving Tribal natural resources and land issues and with Tribal entities requires an approach which is tailored to each transaction and each Tribal entity.


Peter A. Larson
Peter A. Larson
602.262.5796 / vCard
Kerry K. Patterson
Kerry K. Patterson
602.262.5717 / vCard
Frances R. Sjoberg
Frances R. Sjoberg
602.262.5718 / vCard

Regulatory & Government

Carla A. Consoli
Carla A. Consoli
Practice Group Leader, Partner
602.262.5347 / vCard
Pilar Thomas
Pilar Thomas
Of Counsel
520.629.4455 / vCard
  • Counsel to client regarding contract drafting and negotiations relating to the assertion of Tribal jurisdiction, sovereign immunity and choice of law issues.
  • Counsel to client regarding Federal review and approval processes for contracts on Tribal lands.
  • Counsel to client regarding lease negotiations and required federal approvals.
  • Counsel to client negotiation and implementation of Tribal rights-of-way under a variety of federal statutes.
  • Counsel to client regarding the fractionalized land ownership and probate issues associated with the General Allotment Act.
  • Counsel to client regarding negotiation and documentation of mineral exploration agreements and mining lease agreements on Tribal lands.
  • Counsel to client regarding research land title and ownership issues on both Tribal lands and allotted lands.
  • Tribal consultations and other National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) issues on Tribal lands.
  • Counsel to client regarding draft codes, regulations and other legal documents relating to Tribal natural resources and Tribal lands.
  • Counsel to client regarding tribal regulation of Clean Air Act issues on Tribal lands.
  • Counsel to client regarding tribal regulation of Clean Water Act issues on Tribal lands, including water quality standards, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit programs and Section 404 dredge and fill permits.
  • Counsel to client regarding applicability and interpretation of Tribal Superfund and Tribal laws addressing contamination and liability issues on Tribal lands.
  • Counsel to client regarding tribal regulation of Safe Drinking Water Act issues on Tribal lands.
  • Counsel to client regarding American Indian Religious Freedom Act and sacred sites issues.
  • Counsel to client regarding recovery, project delay and other issues arising under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Related News

EPA draft rules on clean energy may benefit Indian tribes
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Related Events

Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie has joined EUCI as a Sponsoring Organization for the upcoming conference "Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands
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Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Limitless Energy Blog

Primary Services

Environmental & Natural Resources

Key Contacts

Carla A. Consoli
Carla A. Consoli
Practice Group Leader