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Freedom of Information Act

The Institute of American Indian Arts (formally known as the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development) is one of only three Congressionally-chartered colleges in the United States of America. You can review the Enabling Legislation Public Law 99-498 Title XV. As such, IAIA is considered a federal agency as it relates to certain aspects of its operations. Therefore, any requests for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records must follow federal guidelines outlined in the Federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, as opposed to those set forth by the State of New Mexico.

A FOIA request can be made for any existing IAIA record. The FOIA does not require agencies to create new records or to conduct research, analyze data, or answer questions when responding to requests.

Generally, any person—United States citizen or not—can make a FOIA request. Before making a request, please first look to see if the information you are interested in is already publicly available on the IAIA website. If the information you require is not publicly available, you can submit a FOIA request to the IAIA Communications Department at There is no specific form needed, but the request must describe the records you seek in specific detail.

Once IAIA receives your FOIA request, you will receive an email acknowledging the request. If we require additional information before we can begin to process your request, the Communications Department will include that information in the email, or subsequent emails.

IAIA will typically search for records in response to your request, once the intended use for the information is determined. This is to assist IAIA in applying the appropriate fees. The requested records, once located, will be reviewed to determine which—and what parts of each—can be released. IAIA will redact, or black out, any information protected from disclosure by one of the FOIA’s nine exemptions (see below). The releasable records will then be sent to the requester.

There is no initial fee required to submit a FOIA request, but the FOIA does provide for the charging of fees to fulfill the request.

FOIA provides for 3 types of fees that may be assessed in response to FOIA requests: search, review, and duplication. The fees that may be charged depend on the requestor’s category—there are three categories of requestors: (1) commercial use; (2) educational or noncommercial scientific requests, or representatives of the news media; and (3) those who do not fall within either the first or second categories.

Duplication fees can be charged to any category. Requests from individuals or companies falling under the commercial use category will also be charged search and review fees. Legal review of the request—determining what can be provided or whether any exemptions apply, will be included in the review fees. Those requestors in the second category (educational, noncommercial scientific, or news media) will only be assessed duplication fees. Those in the third category will be assessed both search and duplication fees. Review fees will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

You may always include in your request letter a specific statement limiting the amount that you are willing to pay in fees. If IAIA estimates that the total fees for processing your request will exceed your limit, we will notify you via email of the estimate of costs, and offer you an opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce the fees. If you agree to pay fees for a records search, you may be required to pay such fees even if the search does not locate any releasable records.

You may also request a waiver of fees. Under the FOIA, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. A requester’s inability to pay fees is not a legal basis for granting a fee waiver.

Once IAIA has processed your request, and the requestor has paid any required fees, we will send you a response. This response will let you know whether records were located and will include all releasable documents. If any portions of the records are withheld, for instance because disclosure would invade an individual’s personal privacy, IAIA will inform you of the specific FOIA exemption that is being applied.

Not all records are required to be released under the FOIA. Congress established nine exemptions from disclosure for certain categories of information to protect against certain harms, such as an invasion of personal privacy, or harm to law enforcement investigations. The FOIA authorizes agencies to withhold information when they reasonably foresee that disclosure would harm an interest protected by one of these nine exemptions. The nine exemptions are described below:

  • Exemption 1: Information that is classified to protect national security.
  • Exemption 2: Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
  • Exemption 3: Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.
  • Exemption 4: Trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is confidential or privileged.
  • Exemption 5: Privileged communications within or between agencies, including those protected by the:
    1. Deliberative Process Privilege (provided the records were created less than 25 years before the date on which they were requested)
    2. Attorney-Work Product Privilege
    3. Attorney-Client Privilege
  • Exemption 6: Information that, if disclosed, would invade another individual’s personal privacy.
  • Exemption 7: Information compiled for law enforcement purposes that:
    1. 7(A). Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings
    2. 7(B). Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication
    3. 7(C). Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
    4. 7(D). Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source
    5. 7(E). Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions
    6. 7(F). Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual
  • Exemption 8: Information that concerns the supervision of financial institutions.
  • Exemption 9: Geological information on wells.

More information available on the Federal FOIA at