Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is housed within the U.S. Department of Interior and outlines the legacy of Indian boarding schools established by the Department of War in the mid- 19th century. BIE’s missions is to provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a  tribe’s needs for cultural and economic well-being, in keeping with the wide diversity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct cultural and governmental entities. Currently, the BIE oversees a total of 183 elementary, secondary, residential and peripheral dormitories across 23 states.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) released a Secretarial Order on June 12, 2014 regarding lingering issues within the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school system. Acknowledging these issues, DOI released its BIE Transformation Blueprint that aims to support increased tribal self-determination in delivering education services. While there is justifiable cause for concern on the reform’s rollout, ultimately self-determination in education, through increased tribal capacity building and support, is at the core of the plan. NIEA members as well as tribes have supported increased self-determination through letters, testimony, resolutions, and consultation over the past decades.

To learn more about the BIE, please visit their website, www.bie.edu.


On September 6, 2016, a federal judge ruled that the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe can present evidence that the federal government failed to abide by its own Consultation Policy in implementing reforms of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). To read the full court order, please click here.


As the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) enters another year of the reform, NIEA is working to ensure that the agency provides transparent and accurate information every step of the way. As such, NIEA has created fact sheets elaborating on the following three topics: Associate Deputy Director (ADD) Realignment, Cost of BIE’s Reorganization and New Education Resource Centers (ERCs).

Associate Deputy Director (ADD) Realignment: The central component of the reform plan will realign the direct school services to match the management needs of the schools. The field structure will be aligned according to the types of schools serviced – tribally controlled or bureau operated – rather than solely on a geographical basis (current structure is: ADD East; ADD West; ADD Navajo).

To view the ADD fact sheet, please click here.

Cost of BIE’s Reorganization: When designing the proposal, the BIE ensured that the reorganization would have no impact on core school budgets primarily funded by Department of the Interior (DOI) Indian School Equalization Programs (ISEP) and Department of Education (ED) programs. Rather, the reorganization would be paid for using existing funding currently used for administrative purposes and school support.

To view the BIE Reorganization fact sheet, please click here.

Education Resource Centers (ERCs): BIE will realign 22 existing education line offices (ELOs) into 15 education resource centers (ERCs), 3 facility support centers, 3 technical assistance centers, and 1 National Johnson O’Malley center. The BIE has stated that the ERCs will address a key recommendation of the blueprint – specifically, to provide improved technical assistance and more comprehensive services to schools. The ERCs will be geographically positioned close to schools and staffed with school solutions teams to provide customized support to meet the unique needs of each school.

To view the ERC fact sheet, please click here.