American Indian Health Records

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs attempted to assist the Native Americans by providing health care and education for them. Physicians, nurses, and teachers were assigned to many of the reservations to teach sanitation and prevention of diseases.

These individuals reported health concerns to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Agent on the reservation, who, in turn, passed the information along to the Commissioner’s Office in his correspondence and reports. These letters and reports often mentioned individual Indians by name, the location of their residence, and something of the health problem. These records were far from a complete record of everyone living on the reservation, however.

Perhaps the most complete record of health kept prior to 1934 was the “Sanitary Records of Sick, Injured, Births, Deaths, etc.” Sometimes the word “Wounded” was substituted for “Injured.” These records may be listed in inventories under other names such as physician’s reports or sick ledgers.

Other health records, not as commonly kept, may have been compiled, such as an “Individual Health Record” or a “Household Record.”

Byers, Paula K., ed. Native American Genealogical Sourcebook. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1995.

See also:
Indians of the United States and Their Records