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Bureau of Indian Affairs

Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240


DIRECTOR *Darryl LaCounte

The Bureau of Indian Affairs enhances the quality of life, promotes economic opportunity, and protects and improves the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives.


Secretary of War John C. Calhoun established the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on March 11, 1824, to oversee and carry out the Federal Government’s trade and treaty relations with tribes. The BIA remains the oldest Department of the Interior (DOI) component in continuous existence and one of the oldest agencies in the Federal Government. The DOI formally adopted Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as the agency’s official name on September 17, 1947. Prior to that time, it was referred to as the Indian office, Indian bureau, Indian department, and Indian service.

On March 3, 1849, President James K. Polk approved an act that transferred the "supervisory and appellate powers now exercised by the Secretary of the War Department, in relation to all the acts of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," to the Secretary of the Interior, who now headed the newly created DOI (9 Stat. 395).


Statutory material affecting the BIA is codified in 25 U.S.C. 1–17 (chapter 1).

Rules and regulations that affect Indians are codified in 25 CFR. Parts 1–299 contain rules and regulations that are associated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Parts 900–999 contain rules and regulations that are associated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and with the Department of Health and Human Service's Indian Health Service.


The BIA's mission centers on fulfilling its trust responsibilities and promoting self-determination on behalf of federally recognized tribal governments, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. The BIA provides services to members of 574 federally recognized Indian Tribes in the 48 contiguous United States and Alaska—nearly two million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The BIA serves the federally recognized Tribes through four Offices:

The Office of Indian Services operates the BIA's general assistance, disaster relief, Indian child welfare, tribal government, Indian self-determination, and reservation roads programs.

The Office of Justice Services directly operates or funds law enforcement, tribal courts, and detention facilities on Federal Indian lands.

The Office of Trust Services works with tribes and individual American Indians and Alaska Natives in the management of their trust lands, assets, and resources.

Lastly, the Office of Field Operations oversees 12 regional offices and 83 agencies that carry out the mission of the BIA at the tribal level. The regional offices and agencies administer delivery of program services to the federally recognized Tribes, to individual Indians, and to Alaska Natives, either directly or through contracts, grants or compacts.

Sources of Information

Archived Records

The "Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States" indicates that Bureau of Indian Affairs records have been assigned to record group 075.

Boarding Schools

On April 1, 2022, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan T. Newland submitted the first "Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report" to Secretary Debra A. Haaland. In his cover letter to the report, Assistant Secretary Newland described the report's achievements: "[It] shows for the first time that between 1819 and 1969, the United States operated or supported 408 boarding schools across 37 States (or then-territories), including 21 schools in Alaska and 7 schools in Hawaii. This report identifies each of those schools by name and location, some of which operated across multiple sites." To conclude his letter, and with an eye on the future, he added: "This report . . . is only a first step to acknowledge the experiences of Federal Indian boarding school children. It notes a desire from people across Indian Country and the Native Hawaiian Community to share their individual and family experiences within the Federal Indian boarding school system and the resulting impacts today. This report also presents an opportunity for us to reorient our Federal policies to support the revitalization of Tribal languages and cultural practices. This reorientation of Federal policy is necessary to counteract nearly two centuries of Federal policies aimed at the destruction of Tribal languages and cultures."

Career Opportunities

BIA job opportunities, common job documents, and hiring information for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans are available online.

The BIA posted a short video to promote its firefighting and aviation program. It focuses on the program's Helitack crews, which rely heavily on helicopters in their efforts to extinguish wildfires.

In 2020, the BIA ranked 358th among 411 agency subcomponents in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places To Work Agency Rankings.

Contact Information

The BIA posts its mailing address and fax and phone numbers on the Indian Affairs' website on the "Contact Us" web page.

Estate Planning

The American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004 (AIPRA) made changes to the way trust or restricted land and property is inherited. It also made changes that affected land management and purchases. The BIA website has information that explains how AIPRA affects wills and inheritance.

Federal Register

Significant documents, from 1995 (volume 60) to the present, and recent documents that the BIA has published in the Federal Register are available online.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The FOIA establishes a presumption that the public may access records in the possession of Federal agencies. The Act is based on the principle of openness in government and generally provides that a person has a right of access to Federal agency records. This right of access is restricted, however, by nine exemptions and three special law enforcement record exclusions that shield certain records, or parts of them, from disclosure. More information on the FOIA and instructions for submitting a request to access BIA records are available on the Indian Affairs website. | Email:

Before submitting a FOIA request in writing with the FOIA officer, the requester should check that the information being sought is not already in the public domain. The DOI maintains FOIA libraries that include the following record types and resources: final opinions made in the adjudication of cases; policy statements and interpretations that the DOI has adopted, but not published in the Federal Register; administrative staff manuals and staff instructions that affect a member of the public; records that have been requested repeatedly by submitters of FOIA requests or records that the DOI anticipates will be requested repeatedly in the future; an index of frequently requested records; and links to other related sites and reference materials.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Indian Affairs posts answers to FAQs on its website.


Frequently requested documents and links are accessible on the Indian Affairs website in the electronic document library.


The Office of Trust Services' Branch of Geospatial Support (BGS) posts web maps and static maps, as well as downloadable data, on the Indian Affairs' website. The BGS provides geographic information systems software, training, and system support for the management of natural resources on Indian lands. Phone, 877-293-9494. | Email:

The Office of Trust Services posted the "Indian Lands of Federally Recognized Tribes of the United States" map on the BIA website in Portable Document Format (PDF) for viewing and downloading.

The "National Climate Assessment: Indigenous People's Resilience Actions" map, which is posted on the Office of Trust Services' website, provides an overview of indigenous people's actions to prepare for changes in climate by taking steps to increase resilience.

Programs / Services

Federally recognized Tribes look to the BIA for a range of services. The "Programs and Services" web page, which is accessible on the Indian Affairs' website, provides information about them.

Regional Offices

Contact information for the 12 BIA regional offices is available online.

Regulations in Development

The "Regulations and Other Documents in Development" web page, which is part of the Indian Affairs' website, allows visitors to monitor the progress of regulations that are in development, under review, or in development and under review.

Site Map

The site map, which is part of the Indian Affairs' website, allows visitors to look for specific topics or to browse content that aligns with their interests.

Social Media

The BIA posts content on Facebook.

The BIA tweets announcements and other newsworthy items on Twitter.

Tracing Ancestry

The "Tracing American Indian and Alaska Native Ancestry" web page has information on genealogical research and on tribal contacts and services. It also answers some oft asked questions about tracing one's family ancestry.

Wildland Fire Management

Indian Affairs posted a collection of fire prevention and education videos on wildland fire management in Indian country on its website. Note that not all of the videos in the collection were produced by the BIA.