Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Dawes Act

Grover Cleveland
The Dawes Act (also called General Allotment Act, or Dawes Severalty Act of 1887), adopted by Congress in 1887, authorized the President of the United States to survey Indian tribal land and divide the land into allotments for individual Indians. Dawes Act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906 by the Burke Act.
The Act was named for its sponsor, Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts. The stated objective of the Dawes Act was to stimulate assimilation of Indians into American society. Individual ownership of land was seen as an essential step. The act also provided that the government would purchase Indian land "excess" to that needed for allotment and open it up for settlement by non-Indians.
The Dawes Commission, set up under an Indian Office appropriation bill in 1893, was created, not to administer the Dawes Act, but to attempt to get the Five Civilized Tribes, which were excluded under the Dawes Act, to agree to an allotment plan. This commission registered the members of the Five Civilized Tribes. The Curtis Act of 1908 completed the process of destroying tribal governments by abolishing tribal jurisdiction of Indian land.
After decades of seeing the disarray these acts caused, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration supported passage in 1934 of the Indian Reorganization Act. It ended allotment and created a "New Deal" for Indians, including renewing their rights to reorganize and form their own governments.

“I took up some of the barn floor and tightened some of the planks that had become shrunk and put a new one next to the doors.  Has rained about all day.”

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