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Bureau of Indian Education

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


DIRECTOR *Tony L. Dearman

The Bureau of Indian Education provides educational opportunities for eligible American Indian and Alaska Native elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students from federally recognized Tribes


To reflect the parallel purpose and organizational structure that the BIE has in relation to other programs within the Office of the Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs, the Office of Indian Education Programs was renamed the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) by departmental manual release no. 3721 of August 29, 2006.

Nearly 95 years earlier, President Warren G. Harding approved Public Law 67–85, which is also referred to as the Snyder Act of 1921, to authorize the BIA, under the supervision of the Secretary of the Interior, to "direct, supervise, and expend such moneys as Congress may from time to time appropriate, for the benefit, care, and assistance of the Indians throughout the United States for the following purposes . . ." One of those purposes was for the "general support and civilization, including education." Since the passage of the Snyder Act of 1921, three major legislative actions have restructured the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) with regard to educating American Indians.

On June 18, 1934, the day on which President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved Public Law 73–383, which is also referred to as the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and the Wheeler-Howard Act, the longstanding Federal policy of acculturating and assimilating Indian people through a boarding school system ended. The new law introduced the teaching of Indian history and culture in BIA schools.

On January 4, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford approved Public Law 93–638, which is also cited as the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, "to establish a program of assistance to upgrade Indian education" and "to support the right of Indian citizens to control their own educational activities." The law allows federally recognized Tribes to contract with the BIA for the operation of Bureau-funded schools and to determine education programs suitable for their children.

On November 1, 1978, President James E. Carter approved Public Law 95–561, which is also cited as the Education Amendments of 1978. Additional amendments followed: Public Laws 98–511, 99–99, and 100–297. These legislative actions provided direct funding to tribally operated schools, empowered Indian school boards, permitted local hiring of teachers and staff, and created a direct line of authority between the Education Director and the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.

The BIE organizational chart is part of the organizational chart of Indian Affairs.


Rules and regulations affecting Indians and their education are codified in 25 CFR 30–47 (subchapter E).


The BIE provides quality education opportunities from early childhood throughout adulthood, in accordance with the Tribes' needs for cultural and economic well-being, and in keeping with the diversity of Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct cultural and governmental entities. The BIE considers the whole person as it carries out its mission, taking into account the cultural, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of the person within the contexts of family and Tribe or Alaska Native village.

The BIE educates over 45,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children at 183 elementary and secondary schools on 64 reservations in 23 States. The Bureau operates 53 of these schools. The other 130 schools are tribally operated. The BIE oversees two postsecondary schools: Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, NM. It also funds the Navajo and United Tribes Technical Colleges.

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. "Records of the Education Division 1874–1972" are part of that record group.

Career Opportunities

American Indian children deserve a quality education—and that starts with highly qualified, dedicated staff and educators. The BIE employees nearly 4,500 professionals in careers that offer unique and diverse cultural and lifestyle experiences. Phone, 505-563-5304. | Email:

Contact Information

The "Contact Us" web page has addresses and phone numbers for contacting the BIE.

The Human Resources Office maintains a web page with contact information.

The BIE "National Staff Directory" (APR 2019) is available in Portable Document Format (PDF) for viewing and downloading.

Divisions / Programs

The BIE website features a web page with a list of the agency's divisions and programs and links to their websites.

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 BIE 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)

The BIE posts answers to FAQs on its website.


The BIE posts news items on its website.


Performance and special education reports and school report cards are accessible online.


BIE education line officers, school superintendents, principals, teachers, and staff can access program guidance, handbooks, templates, and training provided in various formats—WebEx or PowerPoint—to refresh professional skills. These online documents and presentations are provided to supplement staff training throughout the school year.


The BIE website provides information on scholarship opportunities for American Indian students.


Contact information for schools that the BIE oversees is available online.

Site Map

The website map allows visitors to look for specific topics or to browse content that aligns with their interests.

Social Media

The BIE maintains a Facebook account.

The BIE tweets announcements and other newsworthy items on Twitter.

Tribal Resources

A directory of external resources to support tribes is accessible on the BIE website. The directory file is in Portable Document Format for viewing and downloading.

The Sources of Information were updated 12–2019.