About this Dashboard
This data dashboard displays the acres of native lands leased by the Bureau of Indian Affairs between 1880 and 1985 and can be filtered by Native land area and year.
About the Data
Village Earth with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation attempted to compile data on the leasing of native lands by the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1887 to the present. This data dashboard displays the years of data acquired by the Native Lands Advocacy Project as part of an exhaustive search of libraries, government publications, the National Archives and Library of Congress as well as two FOIA requests submitted by the NLAP to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2018 and 2019. Click here to see a chart of the different sources of data for the different years.
Why is this Data and Dashboard Important?
Established in 1824, the US Bureau of Indian Affairs is responsible for the administration and management of 55 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface minerals estates held in trust by the United States for American Indian, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. Despite this huge responsibility, there is very little transparency or accountability when it comes to the BIA’s performance as Trustee. According to a 2009 Program Evaluation of the BIA Realty and Trust Program (the most recent such report) by Department of Interior’s office of Inspector General “The BIA Realty and Trust Program plays a key role in keeping the DOI promise “to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives.” Additionally, this report excoriated the Bureau for its continued failure to develop meaningful performance measures. Specifically, the report states that in “Real Estate Services, acquisition and disposal of land and lease compliance activities are significant functions that also lack measures.” The failure of the BIA to provide even basic information about transactions of Native lands makes public scrutiny of these programs difficult, if not impossible.