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Bureau of Indian Affairs Collection

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, commonly called the Office of Indian Affairs until 1947, was created within the War Department in 1824 where it operated until 1849. In 1849 the Office of Indian Affairs was transferred to the Department of Interior, where it remains today. General correspondence and records of the BIA are filed under Record Group 75 and include reports, vital statistics, tribal census rolls, probate records, annuity and allotment records, accounting records, individual case files, and school records.

Supervision of Indian affairs was achieved through two types of field jurisdiction--superintendencies and agencies. Responsibility for Indian affairs in geographic areas fell to superintendents whose main duty was to supervise relations among Indian peoples and to supervise conduct of Indian agents.

Initially agents were viewed as diplomatic representatives of the United States, preserving and restoring peace among Indian peoples and non-Indians, while inducing Indian nations to cede their lands to the federal government. During the reservation era, their roles shifted toward the education and civilization of Indian peoples. The Bureau of Indian Affairs continues to operate offices at all of the South Dakota Agencies listed below.