Cherokee Indian Agency (TN) record example

Cherokee Indian Agency (TN)

Records: 12,457 · Complete: 100%


The Bureau of Indian Affairs, usually known as the Office of Indian Affairs, was established as a separate agency within the War Department in 1824. Congress established the position of Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1832. The Office of Indian Affairs was transferred in 1849 to the newly created Department of the Interior, where it has remained. In 1947 the Office of Indian Affairs was renamed the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

This description, records of field jurisdictions commented on below, and a list of contents for each of the 14 rolls of microfilm from which these images were scanned, are included in the descriptive pamphlet for M208, published by NARA. It can be viewed or downloaded here.

Documents types

Records included in this publication are:

  • Correspondence
  • Agency letter books
  • Fiscal records  - one page of several within a "Register of Horses," describing horses, to whom sold, and the transaction price.
  • Records of the Agent for the Department of War in Tennessee
  • Records of the Agent for Cherokee Removal
  • Miscellaneous records

Records of field jurisdictions

By the time the Office of Indian Affairs was established in 1824, the system of superintendencies and agencies was well organized, Superintendents had general responsibility for Indian affairs in a geographical area, usually a Territory, but sometimes a larger area. Their duties included the supervision of intertribal relationships in their jurisdiction and between the tribes and citizens of the United States or other persons, and the supervision of the conduct and accounts of agents responsible to them. Agents were immediately responsible for the affairs of one or more tribes. They attempted to preserve or restore peace and often tried to induce Indians to cede their lands and to move to areas less threatened by white encroachment. They also distributed money and goods and carried out other provisions of treaties with the Indians. Gradually, as the Indians were confined on reservations, the agents became more concerned with educating and "civilizing" them.

The records maintained by field offices relate to almost all aspects of Indian administration in the field. Records of a superintendency include those of the agencies over which it had jurisdiction. Sometimes records of reservation schools and other field units are included with the agency records. The kinds of records maintained did not vary much from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, although there are great differences in the quantities that have survived. Most of the correspondence of superintendents and independent agents was conducted with the central office of the bureau, but considerable correspondence was exchanged between superintendents and agents within the superintendency. Also found is correspondence with other field officials and employees, Army officers, businessmen, and Indians.

Contents by film number

The original microfilm publication contains fourteen rolls of microfilm. The contents for each film are listed here by film number.

  1. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1801-2.
  2. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1803-4.
  3. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1805-7.
  4. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1808-9.
  5. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1810-12.
  6. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1813-15.
  7. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1816-18.
  8. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1819-20.
  9. Correspondence and miscellaneous records. 1821-23.
  10. Agency letter books, Dec. 30, 1822-Dec. 27, 1827, and Feb.6, 1832-Dec. 2, 1835.
  11. Fiscal records, 1801-20, comprising (1) copies of accounts, receipts, and disbursements, 1801-20;
  1. Cherokee journals, 1801-11.
  1. Fiscal records, 1801-34, comprising Cherokee day books.
  2. Fiscal records, 1801-17, comprising (1) receipt book, 1801-2; (2) journal and account book, 1801-17; (3) ledger, 1801-9; and (4) a passbook, 1801-4.
  3. Records of the Agent for the Department of War in Tennessee, 1800-15; and records of Joseph McMinn, Agent for Cherokee Removal, 1817-21.