Native American Heritage

Record Group 279: Records of the Indian Claims Commission

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The National Archives houses case files and other historical records of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) in Record Group 279. Case files can include petitions, findings of fact, decisions, exhibits, and maps.




Agency Overview

The ICC was established as an independent federal agency on August 13, 1946. The Commission was charged with hearing and deciding claims made against the United States by “any tribe, band, or other identifiable group of American Indians residing within the territorial limits of the United States or Alaska” (60 Stat. 1049). Only claims filed within five years of the passage of the ICC’s establishing act were eligible for consideration.

Between August 1946 and September 30, 1978, when the ICC was abolished, the Commission heard and issued rulings in hundreds of cases. Most related to land claims. The ICC was not empowered to grant or restore land to tribes, but it could award tribes money based on the market value of lands lost at the time of taking.

The ICC ultimately awarded over $800 million to tribes. Cases that were not finalized when the ICC was abolished were transferred to the U.S. Court of Claims.

Records Overview

Textual Records

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The Navajo Tribe of Indians v. The United States of America Exhibit Map (Docket 229, Exhibit G232)

Textual records of the ICC are housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC (Archives 1). Records include multiple series of case files (“dockets”) and exhibits representing American Indian tribes from across the continental United States and Alaska.

For the full archival records descriptions in the National Archives Catalog, please select the National Archives Identifiers (NAIDs) provided. Additional finding aids for these series are available from the Archives 1 Reference Branch at

  • “Closed Case Files, 1947–1982” (NAID 6740915)
  • “Oversize Exhibits to Closed Case Files, 1947–1982” (NAID 6740926)
  • “Documents Separated from Closed Docketed Case Files, 1947–1982” (NAID 12016927)
  • “Supplemental Closed Case Files, 1/11/1955–11/4/1994” (NAID 12016930)

Note: These series do not have access restrictions. “Closed case files” in the series titles indicates that records relate to finalized cases.

Cartographic Records

The Cartographic Branch at the National Archives at College Park, MD, houses oversized maps related to ICC case files in the following series:

  • “Maps Separated from Closed Docketed Case Files, 1947–1979” (NAID 40967311)

For questions related to these records, please email

Additional Resources

The National Indian Law Library’s research guide for ICC materials provides links to the published opinions and reports of the Commission, among other resources.

ProQuest’s Indian Claims Insight database includes digitized versions of many ICC case documents. This database is accessible via subscription only; the National Archives does not currently have a subscription, but some academic libraries do. The database does not generally include case exhibits.