In March of 1824, in an effort the publicly and collectively protect the rights of Native Americans government officials established the first incarnation of today’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA was originally formed by Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, although he did so without formal approval from Congress.

In earlier attempts to protect and preserve the rights of Native Americans government officials had already established three other similar agencies.

In these earlier attempts to regulate relations between the newly emerging federal government and Native Americans government officials of note include Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry.

In the beginning, in its efforts to administer to Native Americans government officials placed the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the jurisdiction of the War Department. At this time, the bureau was known as the Office of Indian Affairs.

In 1949, long after the US government could consider itself “at war” with Native Americans government officials transferred federal jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the War Department to the Department of the Interior. It also changed the agency’s name from Office of Indian Affairs to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as we know it today.

As part of the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is charged with administrative and management responsibilities pertaining to the nation’s Indian reservations. This network of lands, designated for use by Native Americans only, covers more than 55.7 million acres, or 87,000 square miles.

Responsible for overseeing this vast operation that includes all Native Americans government officials are led by Carl J. Artman, Assistant Secretary to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Assistant Secretary Artman is responsible for a budget of approximately $2.4 billion (in 2004). The bureau employed 9,688 people in 2004, as well.

In its efforts to improve the lives and futures of Native Americans government officials, acting on behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, provide educational services of various kinds to more than 48,000 Native Americans.

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