skip navigation

An image displaying a plaque of the Seminole Trail of Tears, an old map and descriptive sheet about the Seminole Beginnings

| | Text Size: -A | A | A+
<----Click on the tabs to the left more info.


The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (Public Law 93-638) authorized the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and other government agencies to enter contracts and make grants directly to, federally recognized Indian tribes. The tribes would have authority for how they administered the funds, which gave them greater control over their welfare. The ISDEAA is codified at Title 25, United States Code, beginning at section 5301 (formerly section 450).

Signed into law on January 4, 1975, the ISDEAA made self-determination the focus of government action. The Act reversed a 30-year effort by the federal government to sever treaty relationships with and obligations to Indian tribes. The Act was the result of 15 years of change, influenced by American Indian activism, the Civil Rights Movement, and community development based on grassroots political participation.

The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act has been amended many times, primarily by making it easier for tribes to contract and allowing greater self-determination of tribes. In 1988 the Act was amended to make it harder for the federal government to deny 638 contract proposals tribes put forward and made it easier for tribes to get 638 contracts to perform their own services. While 638 contracting is a large step forward for tribes, tribes still must provide specific services in specific ways and engage in many administrative tasks related to the contract.

The education piece of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act did two primary things. First it gave tribes control over the BIA operated schools. The second thing was to make amendments to the Johnson-O'Malley Act. A key amendment was to create advisory boards made up of parents of Indian children for schools that receive federal funds through Johnson O'Malley.