Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a part of the United States Department of the Interior, and is charged with managing relations between the U.S. federal government and tribal governments. While the Bureau is technically an advisory agency, in the past it has been viewed by many in an antagonistic role. This is because the agency has been put in charge of reaching treaty agreements between American Indians and the federal government and enforcing the agreements in the past. The agency oversees 55,700,000 acres of territory set aside for Native Americans, including reservations and sacred lands.
The Bureau and its Divisions
The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education are separate bureaus within the Department of the Interior. Within these bureaus, there are sub-divisions, known as offices, that serve the Native American population in the U.S.
-Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and all of its divisions are available from the National Archives.
-The Bureau of Indian Education ensures educational opportunities are offered for American Indian children, from early childhood through adulthood.
-The Department of Interior Recovery Investments explains how the $500 million allocated for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education is being used.
-The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) works to help Indian communities gain and maintain economic self-sufficiency.
-The Office of Justice Services manages all law enforcement on Bureau of Indian Affairs’ territory.
-The Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians oversees the reform of fiduciary and accounting systems as well as other changes to the management and administration of the federal Indian trust.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Regional Offices
The Bureau of Indian Affairs serves Native American populations through regional offices located on the lands they oversee. Through these offices, the Bureau provides programs and services as well as awarding contracts for other service providers. There are 12 regional offices and 83 agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The regional offices are:
Other Government Agencies Serving American Indians
Other government agencies have divisions which serve Native American populations, in addition to services offered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These other agencies work to protect the physical and mental health of Indian populations, the socioeconomic status of individual tribes and the lands where they live.
-The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services operates the Indian Health Service, which is the federal health program for Indians. They offer health initiatives, health centers and vaccination programs, among other services.
-The Environmental Protection Agency protects the land and resources of American Indians through the American Indian Environmental Office.
-The United States Census Bureau offers Census figures, information and resources for American Indian and Alaska Natives.
-The National Indian Gaming Commission regulates all gambling activities on Indian lands. The NIGC is charged with ensuring Indian tribes are the primary beneficiaries of the gaming revenue.
For centuries, Native American tribes were at war with one another. Today, however, they often work together for the common good of their people. Inter-Tribal organizations unite tribes to serve the interests of tribal governments and communities.
-The National Congress of American Indians is the largest inter-tribal organization serving American Indian and Alaska Native populations. It is also the oldest inter-tribal organization, founded in 1944.
-The Inter-tribal Buffalo Council is a group of 56 tribes who support re-establishment of the native buffalo population on tribal lands. The organization has a collective herd of over 15,000 bison as of 2012.
-The American Indian Inter-Tribal Cultural Organization offers both Indian and non-Indians the opportunity to learn tribal histories, customs and traditions.
There are 565 federally recognized Native American tribes, and almost 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States. Several of these tribes have a web presence, including:
-The Seminole Tribe of Florida
-Northern Cheyenne Tribe
-Hopi Tribal Council
-The Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo, live on the Colorado River Indian Reservation.