Native American Heritage

American Indian and Alaska Native Records: Reports

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Reports summarize the activities of an agency, office, commission, or other federal entity within a specific time period or in response to a particular mandate. Reports often compile information from other records, such as correspondence.

Reports can be useful resources when researching federal agencies’ historical interactions with, and programs for, American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. This page discusses three types of reports: agency-wide reports, office-level reports, and special reports.



Agency-wide Reports

Published Sources

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Organization of the Office of Indian Affairs in 1908 (from the Commissioner's 1908 annual report, page 11; available online through the University of Wisconsin)

Congress requires most federal agencies to submit annual reports of their activities for accountability and transparency purposes. These reports usually provide a high-level overview of an agency’s business and fiscal operations.

Agencies’ annual reports are useful for tracing shifts in federal Indian policy and spending over time. They can also outline an agency’s organizational structure. This can be helpful for identifying specific offices with jurisdiction over Indian affairs.

Agencies’ annual reports to Congress are often published. As such, they are not always included in the holdings of the National Archives. For more information, see Government Publications and Library Materials.

Below are select online sources for agencies’ historical annual reports:

The Serial Set and HathiTrust can be searched by keyword (e.g., “annual report,” “Commissioner of Indian Affairs,” “General Land Office”). The American State Papers includes keyword-searchable indexes for the Indian Affairs volumes.

More recent annual reports are often published on agencies’ websites. For a list of federal agency websites, see’s A–Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.

Textual Records

While agencies rarely maintained a complete run of their published annual reports, they sometimes kept record copies of select annual reports. These are now in the holdings of the National Archives.

Examples are listed below. Select the National Archives Identifiers for the full archival records descriptions, and contact the Archives 1 Reference Branch in Washington, DC, for more information.

  • General Land Office (now the Bureau of Land Management)
    • “Annual Reports, 1860–1932” (National Archives Identifier 12078159)
  • Indian Claims Commission (ICC)
    • “Publications, 1946–1978” (National Archives Identifier 12016924)—includes ICC annual reports for the periods 1968–1971 and 1973–1977
  • Board of Indian Commissioners
    • “Annual Reports, 1925–1932” (National Archives Identifier 2194530)

Office-Level Reports

Federal offices often submitted quarterly, semiannual, or annual reports to agency headquarters about activities within their jurisdictions. While these reports were not typically published in their entirety, they usually informed the agency’s annual report to Congress.

Office-level reports can include more detail than agency-wide reports. As such, they can be more useful for researching a specific American Indian or Alaska Native tribe than the agency-wide reports.

Below are examples of office-level reports related to American Indians and Alaska Natives in the holdings of the National Archives. Select the National Archives Identifiers for the full archival records descriptions.

For additional series, search the National Archives Catalog. See Using the National Archives Catalog for additional search tips, and Contact Us with questions.

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Excerpt from the Bishop Jurisdiction's 1924 annual report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs (Record Group 75)

  • Bureau of Land Management (Record Group 49)

  • Indian Health Service (Record Group 513)

  • Office of the Secretary of the Interior (Record Group 48)

    • NARA Microfilm Publication M1070, Reports of Inspections of the Field Jurisdictions of the Office of Indian Affairs, 1873–1900 (National Archives Identifier 603777)

Special Reports

In addition to periodic reports, federal entities occasionally commissioned reports on special topics related to American Indians and Alaska Natives. These reports were often the result of special investigations or projects. Examples are listed below.

Published Sources

  • The Problem of Indian Administration: Summary of Findings and Recommendations (commonly known as the Meriam Report). Available online through HathiTrust.
    • On June 12, 1926, Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work requested that the Institute for Government Research, a private organization, survey the economic and social conditions of American Indians. The survey team’s report, submitted to Secretary Work on February 21, 1928, influenced many policies of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Indian New Deal.” For more information, see the Pieces of History blog post “Indian New Deal” (2015).
  • Report with Respect to the House Resolution Authorizing the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs to Conduct an Investigation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Pursuant to H. Res. 689 (82nd Cong.). Available online in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set (accessible on-site at National Archives research facilities).
    • On July 1, 1952, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for an investigation of the operations and activities of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The report from the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, issued on December 15, 1952, largely focused on ways to reduce the BIA’s expenses and services. The report in part laid the groundwork for the federal policy of termination, officially announced on August 1, 1953, in House Concurrent Resolution 108 (67 Stat. B132).
  • Indian Education: A National Tragedy—A National Challenge (commonly known as the Kennedy Report). Available online through the U.S. Congressional Serial Set (accessible on-site at National Archives research facilities) and the National Indian Law Library.
    • On August 31, 1967, the U.S. Senate authorized an investigation and study of Indian education. In their report of November 3, 1969, the Senate’s Special Subcommittee on Indian Education outlined failures of national policy, public schools, and federal schools to provide quality and effective education for American Indian and Alaska Native youth and recommendations for improvement.

Textual Records

Select the National Archives Identifiers for the full archival records descriptions. For more information, contact the Archives 1 Reference Branch in Washington, DC.

  • “Report on the Samuel A. Galpin Investigation, 1877–1877” (National Archives Identifier 607941)
  • “Reports of the Pueblo Lands Board, 1925–1931” (National Archives Identifier 2194547)
  • “Reports and Evidence Concerning Puyallup Enrollment, 1929–1929” (National Archives Identifier 2124509)
  • “Missouri River Basin Reports and Related Records, 1946–1952” (National Archives Identifier 1233823)