JANUARY 8, 1887


The Dawes Act, also known as the General Allotment Act, authorized the President to divide tribal land into allotments for individual Indians. Those who accepted allotments and lived apart from the tribe would be granted citizenship.  The Act, named for Sen. Henry L. Dawes, sought to abolish tribal and communal rights in order to: prompt Indian assimilation into American society; transfer Indian land to white settlers; and lift natives out of poverty.  Individual land ownership and subsistence farming were essential steps.  During ensuing decades, tribes lost million acres of communal lands, which were sold to non-Natives.  Native owners became the target of speculators or had allotments too small for profitable farming.  Tribes also suffered the breakdown of the social structure of the tribes.  In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Indian Reorganization Act which ended land allotment and created a “New Deal” for Indians, renewing their rights to form their self-governments.

Sources:  "Dawes Act (1887)". OurDocuments.gov. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 6/5/2019, https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=50. Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934, P. Law No. 73-383, 48 Stat. 984. Retrieved 6/5/2019, http://legisworks.org/congress/73/publaw-383.pdf
Graphic:  National Archives and Records Administration.  "The Dawes Act (1887)."  Public domain.  Copy of a U.S. Statute made by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

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