Bureau Of Indian Affairs

At the time of the adoption of the United States constitution at the end of the 18th century, the federal government obtained from the states the responsibility of Indian Affairs. In 1824, John C. Calhoun (US Secretary of War) created the first Bureau of Indian Affairs. Thomas L. McKenney was the first appointed head of the bureau, but he had neither any official title or any real authority. In 1832, the Congress passed the Act of July 9 establishing the official position (and title) of Commissioner of Indians Affairs "who, under the direction of the Secretary of War.. .have the direction and management of all Indian affairs, and of all matters arising out of Indian relations" (see Curtis, 1977: 47). Elbert Herring was the first appointed commissioner in 1832.

Originally this administration was named the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA). It was later renamed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Initially under the auspices of the Department of War, the bureau was transferred to the Department of the Interior in 1849.

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