United States Department of the Interior

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The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, territorial affairs, and to insular areas of the United States.

The Department is administered by the United States Secretary of the Interior, who is a member of the Cabinet of the President. The current Secretary is Ken Salazar of Colorado.

Despite its name, the Department of the Interior has a different role from that of the interior ministries of other nations, which are usually responsible for functions performed in the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security primarily and the Department of Justice secondarily.

The Department has often been humorously referred to as "The Department of Everything Else" because of its broad range of responsibilities.[1]

Contents

History

A department for domestic concern was first considered by the 1st United States Congress in 1789, but those duties were placed in the Department of State. The idea of a separate domestic department continued to percolate for a half-century and was supported by Presidents from James Madison to James Polk. The 1846-48 Mexican-American War gave the proposal new steam as the responsibilities of the federal government grew. Polk's Secretary of the Treasury, Robert J. Walker, became a vocal champion of creating the new department.

In 1849, Walker stated in his annual report that several federal offices were placed in departments which they had little to do with. He noted that the General Land Office had little to do with the Treasury and also highlighted the Indian Affairs office, part of the Department of War, and the Patent Office, part of the Department of State. Walker argued that these and other bureaus should be brought together in a new Department of the Interior.

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