Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Land Ownership and Irrigation on American Indian Reservations: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

Class

Article

College

College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Faculty Mentor

Eric Edwards

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

American Indian Reservations were enacted to “settle” the surviving members of native groups with land for agricultural production. They offer an interesting case for which to study agricultural development because reservation land is governed under different institutional arrangements than adjacent land. We examine irrigation choices of parcels on and adjacent to the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation in eastern Utah to understand the quality of land allocated to the tribe (selection effect) and the impact of tribal governance (institution effect). In the summer of 1905, prior to any significant agricultural development, land was allotted to the tribe and the remaining lands were opened to entry, settlement, and disposition under general provisions of the homestead and townsite laws of the United States. We use a sharp regression discontinuity (RD) design over the border of these allotted lands to examine the selection effect, finding that more land suitable for irrigation was allocated to the tribe. Since the original allotment, some changes have occurred in tribal land boundaries. We turn to a fuzzy RD design to explore the selection plus institution effect, finding that current tribal lands see significantly less irrigation and less investment in irrigation equipment. Taken together, our results suggest that the original allocations provided better land to the tribe, around seven percentage points more likely to be irrigated; but tribal lands are around thirty percent less likely to be irrigated today. Conditional on land being irrigated, tribal land is also around 30% less likely to have more capital-intensive sprinkler irrigation systems. These results suggest that difficulties in securing capital for irritation infrastructure and equipment may help explain lagging agricultural development on reservations.

Location

Room 204

Start Date

4-12-2018 10:30 AM

End Date

4-12-2018 11:45 AM

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Apr 12th, 10:30 AM Apr 12th, 11:45 AM

Land Ownership and Irrigation on American Indian Reservations: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

Room 204

American Indian Reservations were enacted to “settle” the surviving members of native groups with land for agricultural production. They offer an interesting case for which to study agricultural development because reservation land is governed under different institutional arrangements than adjacent land. We examine irrigation choices of parcels on and adjacent to the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation in eastern Utah to understand the quality of land allocated to the tribe (selection effect) and the impact of tribal governance (institution effect). In the summer of 1905, prior to any significant agricultural development, land was allotted to the tribe and the remaining lands were opened to entry, settlement, and disposition under general provisions of the homestead and townsite laws of the United States. We use a sharp regression discontinuity (RD) design over the border of these allotted lands to examine the selection effect, finding that more land suitable for irrigation was allocated to the tribe. Since the original allotment, some changes have occurred in tribal land boundaries. We turn to a fuzzy RD design to explore the selection plus institution effect, finding that current tribal lands see significantly less irrigation and less investment in irrigation equipment. Taken together, our results suggest that the original allocations provided better land to the tribe, around seven percentage points more likely to be irrigated; but tribal lands are around thirty percent less likely to be irrigated today. Conditional on land being irrigated, tribal land is also around 30% less likely to have more capital-intensive sprinkler irrigation systems. These results suggest that difficulties in securing capital for irritation infrastructure and equipment may help explain lagging agricultural development on reservations.