Seal of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
Flag of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
|Formed||March 11, 1824|
|Jurisdiction||Federal Government of the United States|
|Headquarters|| Main Interior Building |
1849 C Street, NW Washington, D.C., U.S. 20240
|Parent agency||United States Department of the Interior|
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|NGOs and political groups|
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of 55,700,000 acres (225,000 km2) of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans, Native American Tribes and Alaska Natives.
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the president and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of Congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.
A trust is a three-party fiduciary relationship in which the first party, the trustor or settlor, transfers ("settles") a property upon the second party for the benefit of the third party, the beneficiary.
Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii and territories of the United States. More than 570 federally recognized tribes live within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaskan Natives, while "Native Americans" are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. The US Census does not include Native Hawaiians or Chamorro, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".
The BIA is one of two bureaus under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs: the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, which provides education services to approximately 48,000 Native Americans.
The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), headquartered in the Main Interior Building in Washington, D.C., and formerly known as the Office of Indian Education Programs (OIEP), is a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. It is responsible for the line direction and management of all BIE education functions, including the formation of policies and procedures, the supervision of all program activities, and the approval of the expenditure of funds appropriated for BIE education functions.
The BIA’s responsibilities originally included providing health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 1954 that function was transferred to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now known as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and it is now known as the Indian Health Service.
Alaska Natives or Alaskan Natives are indigenous peoples of Alaska, United States and include: Iñupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures. They are often defined by their language groups. Many Alaska Natives are enrolled in federally recognized Alaska Native tribal entities, who in turn belong to 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations, who administer land and financial claims.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) is an operating division (OPDIV) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). IHS is responsible for providing direct medical and public health services to members of federally-recognized Native American Tribes and Alaska Native people. IHS is the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for Indian people.
Located in Washington, D.C., the BIA is headed by a bureau director who reports to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. The current assistant secretary is Tara Sweeney.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, D.C., or the District is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city, located on the Potomac River bordering Maryland and Virginia, is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.
Tara Sweeney is an American businessperson, Alaska Native activist and political operative that since 2018 serves as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, overseeing the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education at the United States Department of the Interior.
The BIA oversees 567 federally recognized tribes through 4 offices:
The Indian Reservation Roads Program (IRR) is part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and is meant to meet the transportation needs of American Indians in the United States, American Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. These roads, also known as BIA Roads are given to tribes by providing funds for planning, designing, construction, and maintenance activities.
Agencies to relate to Native Americans had existed in the U.S. government since 1775, when the Second Continental Congress created a trio of Indian-related agencies. Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry were appointed among the early commissioners to negotiate treaties with Native Americans to obtain their neutrality during the American Revolutionary War.
In 1789, the U.S. Congress placed Native American relations within the newly formed War Department. By 1806 the Congress had created a Superintendent of Indian Trade, or "Office of Indian Trade"within the War Department, who was charged with maintaining the factory trading network of the fur trade. The post was held by Thomas L. McKenney from 1816 until the abolition of the factory system in 1822.
The government licensed traders to have some control in Indian territories and gain a share of the lucrative trade.
The abolition of the factory system left a vacuum within the U.S. government regarding Native American relations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was formed on March 11, 1824, by Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, who created the agency as a division within his department, without authorization from the United States Congress. He appointed McKenney as the first head of the office, which went by several names. McKenney preferred to call it the "Indian Office", whereas the current name was preferred by Calhoun.
In 1832 Congress established the position of Commissioner of Indian Affairs. In 1849 Indian Affairs was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 1869, Ely Samuel Parker was the first Native American to be appointed as commissioner of Indian affairs.
One of the most controversial policies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs was the late 19th to early 20th century decision to educate native children in separate boarding schools, with an emphasis on assimilation that prohibited them from using their indigenous languages, practices, and cultures. It emphasized being educated to European-American culture.
The bureau was renamed from Office of Indian Affairs to Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1947.
With the rise of American Indian activism in the 1960s and 1970s and increasing demands for enforcement of treaty rights and sovereignty, the 1970s were a particularly turbulent period of BIA history. (AIM) worried the U.S. government; the FBI responded both overtly and covertly (by creating COINTELPRO and other programs) to suppress possible uprisings among native peoples.The rise of activist groups such as the American Indian Movement
As a branch of the U.S. government with personnel on Indian reservations, BIA police were involved in political actions such as:
The BIA was implicated in supporting controversial tribal presidents, notably Dick Wilson, who was charged with being authoritarian; using tribal funds for a private paramilitary force, the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (or "GOON squad"), which he employed against opponents; intimidation of voters in the 1974 election; misappropriation of funds, and other misdeeds. Many native peoples continue to oppose policies of the BIA. In particular, problems in enforcing treaties, handling records and trust land incomes were disputed.
In 2013 the Bureau was greatly affected by sequestration funding cuts of $800 million, which particularly affected the already-underfunded Indian Health Service.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has been sued four times in class action overtime lawsuits brought by the Federation of Indian Service Employees,a union which represents the federal civilian employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee for Indian Affairs. As of 2012 the union is represented by the Law Offices of Snider & Associates, LLC, which concentrates in FLSA overtime class actions against the federal government and other large employers. The grievances allege widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and claim tens of millions of dollars in damages.
Cobell vs. Salazar, a major class action case related to trust lands, was settled in December 2009. The suit was filed against the U.S. Department of Interior, of which the BIA is a part. A major responsibility has been the management of the Indian trust accounts. This was a class-action lawsuit regarding the federal government's management and accounting of more than 300,000 individual American Indian and Alaska Native trust accounts. A settlement fund totaling $3.4 billion is to be distributed to class members. This is to compensate for claims that prior U.S. officials had mismanaged the administration of Indian trust assets. In addition, the settlement establishes a $2 billion fund enabling federally recognized tribes to voluntarily buy back and consolidate fractionated land interests.
The Bureau is currently trying to evolve from a supervisory to an advisory role. However, this has been a difficult task as the BIA is known by many Native Americans as playing a police role in which the U.S. government historically dictated to tribes and their members what they could and could not do in accordance with treaties signed by both.
Commissioners and Assistant Secretaries of Indian Affairs include:
The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is a federal executive department of the U.S. government. It is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal lands and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, territorial affairs, and insular areas of the United States. About 75% of federal public land is managed by the department, with most of the remainder managed by the United States Department of Agriculture's United States Forest Service.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is an agency of the US federal government within the US Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats. The mission of the agency is "working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."
The Navajo Nation is an American Indian territory covering about 17,544,500 acres, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States. This is the largest land area retained by an Indian tribe in the United States, with a population of roughly 350,000 as of 2016.
Tribal sovereignty in the United States is the concept of the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the United States. The U.S. federal government recognizes tribal nations as "domestic dependent nations" and has established a number of laws attempting to clarify the relationship between the federal, state, and tribal governments.
Public Law 280 is a federal law of the United States establishing "a method whereby States may assume jurisdiction over reservation Indians," as stated in McClanahan v. Arizona State Tax Commission. 411 U.S. 164, 177 (1973).
An Indian reservation is a legal designation for an area of land managed by a federally recognized Native American tribe under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs rather than the state governments of the United States in which they are physically located. Each of the 326 Indian reservations in the United States is associated with a particular Native American nation. Not all of the country's 567 recognized tribes have a reservation—some tribes have more than one reservation, while some share reservations. In addition, because of past land allotments, leading to some sales to non–Native Americans, some reservations are severely fragmented, with each piece of tribal, individual, and privately held land being a separate enclave. This jumble of private and public real estate creates significant administrative, political, and legal difficulties.
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe (S·dukʷalbixʷ), is a federally recognized tribe of Snoqualmie people. They are Coast Salish Native American peoples from the Snoqualmie Valley in east King and Snohomish Counties in Washington state.
The California Valley Miwok Tribe is a federally recognized tribe of Miwok people in San Joaquin County and Calaveras County, California. They were previously known as the Sheep Ranch Rancheria or the Sheep Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indian of California. The California Valley Miwok are Sierra Miwok, an indigenous people of California.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is a 1988 United States federal law that establishes the jurisdictional framework that governs Indian gaming. There was no federal gaming structure before this act. The stated purposes of the act include providing a legislative basis for the operation/regulation of Indian gaming, protecting gaming as a means of generating revenue for the tribes, encouraging economic development of these tribes, and protecting the enterprises from negative influences. The law established the National Indian Gaming Commission and gave it a regulatory mandate. The law also delegated new authority to the U.S. Department of the Interior and created new federal offenses, giving the U.S. Department of Justice authority to prosecute them.
Cobell v. Salazar is a class-action lawsuit brought by Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) and other Native American representatives in 1996 against two departments of the United States government: the Department of Interior and the Department of the Treasury for mismanagement of Indian trust funds. It was settled in 2009. The plaintiffs claim that the U.S. government has incorrectly accounted for the income from Indian trust assets, which are legally owned by the Department of the Interior, but held in trust for individual Native Americans. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The original complaint asserted no claims for mismanagement of the trust assets, since such claims could only properly be asserted in the United States Court of Federal Claims.
The United States Indian Police (USIP) were organized in 1880 by John Q. Tufts the Indian Commissioner in Muskogee, Indian Territory, to police the Five Civilized Tribes. Their mission is to "provide justice services and technical assistance to federally recognized Indian tribes." The USIP, after its founding in 1880, recruited many of their police officers from the ranks of the existing Indian Lighthorsemen. Unlike the Lighthorse who were under the direction of the individual tribe, the USIP was under the direction of the Indian agent assigned to the Union Agency. Many of the US Indian police officers were given Deputy U.S. Marshal commissions that allowed them to cross jurisdictional boundaries and also to arrest non-Indians.
The Brothertown Indians, located in Wisconsin, are a Native American tribe formed in the late 18th century from communities so-called "praying Indians", descended from Christianized Pequot and Mohegan (Algonquian-speaking) tribes of southern New England and eastern Long Island, New York. In the 1780s after the American Revolutionary War, they migrated from New England into New York state, where they accepted land from the Iroquois Oneida Nation in Oneida County.
In the United States, an American Indian tribe, Native American tribe, Alaska Native village, tribal nation, or similar concept is any extant or historical clan, tribe, band, nation, or other group or community of Native Americans in the United States. Modern forms of these entities are often associated with land or territory of an Indian reservation. "Federally recognized Indian tribe" is a legal term of art in United States law with a specific meaning.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs building takeover refers to a protest by Native Americans at the Department of Interior headquarters in the national capital of Washington, DC from November 3 to November 9, 1972. On November 3, a group of around 500 American Indians with the American Indian Movement (AIM) took over the Interior building in Washington, D.C. It was the culmination of their cross-country journey in the Trail of Broken Treaties, intended to bring attention to American Indian issues such as living standards and treaty rights. The march had brought to Washington the largest gathering ever of Native Americans and supporters hoping to speak to government officials about their concerns and to gain change to help their peoples.
The Advisory Council on California Indian Policy (ACCIP) was created by an act of the United States Congress and signed by President George H. W. Bush on October 14, 1992. It provided for the creation of a special advisory council made up of eighteen members with the purpose of studying the unique problems that California Native Americans face in receiving federal acknowledgment. Additionally, they were given the task of studying the social and economic conditions of California natives, “characterized by, among other things, alcohol and substance abuse, critical health problems, family violence and child abuse, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and significant barriers to tribal economic development.” Under the provisions for the act, the Advisory Council was to make recommendations regarding California Indian policy to the Congress and the Departments of the Interior and of Health and Human Services.
Kevin K. Washburn is an American law professor, former dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law, and current Dean of the University of Iowa College of Law. He served in the administration of President Barack Obama as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior from 2012 to 2016. Washburn has also been a federal prosecutor, a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, and the General Counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission. Washburn is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, a federally-recognized Indian tribe.
Native American self-determination refers to the social movements, legislation, and beliefs by which the Native American tribes in the United States exercise self-governance and decision making on issues that affect their own people.
The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 authorized the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and some other government agencies to enter into contracts with, and make grants directly to, federally recognized Indian tribes. The tribes would have authority for how they administered the funds, which gave them greater control over their welfare. The ISDEAA is codified at Title 25, United States Code, beginning at section 5301.
The Delaware Tribe of Indians, sometimes called the Eastern Delaware, based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is one of three federally recognized tribes of Delaware Indians in the United States, along with the Delaware Nation based in Anadarko, Oklahoma, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin. More Lenape or Delaware people live in Canada.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs Police, usually known as the BIA Police, is the law enforcement arm of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs which polices Indian tribes and reservations that do not have their own police force, and oversees other tribal police organizations. BIA Police services are provided through the Office of Justice Services Division of Law Enforcement.
in 1806, an Office of Indian Trade was created within the War Department
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