Dawes Act of 1887

The allotment of land from the American Indians

The Dawes Act of 1887

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, settlers moved westward and began having conflicts with Native Americans. As settlers advanced, they belittled Indians for they way of life and culture. They believed the Indians did not use the land to their advantage and they were uncivilized. President Cleveland signed The Dawes Act of 1887, terminated reservation land, and the commendable land was granted to settlers at 160 acres per family. The unprofitable land was then given to the Indians. If a certain tribe lived on the land for 25 years prior to the settlers moving in, the land belonged to them. Therefore, between 1887 and 1934, the Indians lost 86 million of their 130 acres. The main purpose of this act was to evoke Indians into leaving their tribe and become civilized American citizens. This was an attempt by Cleveland to integrate tribal Indians into white American culture. However, his support of this act did more ruin than satisfaction.

The Dawes Act of 1887, adopted by Congress, divided American Indian tribal land, and was taken and used by settlers for profit.

(1, m)

The Dawes Act affect on people

The Dawes Act had two main purposes of land and Indian citizenship. The Act divided land and gave it to settlers depending on their role in a family or in society. A family at minimum would receive 160 acres of land, those unmarried over 18 years old would receive 80 acres, and orphans under 18 years would also receive 80 acres. The act also stated that any Indian who received an allotment would become a US citizen. Any other Indians that left their tribe to live among non Indians would also become a US citizen. This raised the problem of taxes. If Indians were not able to make the land profitable as citizens they could become bankrupt and all Indians would have to pay taxes as citizens. The Dawes Act decided that the allotments would be held in trust by the government for 25 years because of this. Indians were not to sell the land nor the land was to be taxed during this time period. During the 25 years the allotments were held in trust, this gave time for Indian culture to disintegrate and be out of "Indian business." Once the trust period was over, the government would issue formal deeds and they would have to acquire the obligations and rights of other landholders. (2, C)

The legacy of the Dawes Act

The U.S. currently holds 300 federal Native American reservations. This includes about 52,017,551 acres held in the trust by the government. The majority is to the west of the Mississippi River. The relationship between the federal government and the federally charted tribes has transformed greatly over the years. The United States commerce holds the power to ratify treaties and regulate commerce, therefore is the trustee of special Indian status. This involves the protection of Indian property, right to self government, and provision of services necessary. Indians can live anywhere in the U.S. now, no problem. Most live in cities all over the country. (5, M)

5 examples of the Dawes Act

  1. Congressman Henry Dawes is the author of the act and expressed his faith in the civilizing power of private says being civilized is to wear full clothes, cultivate the ground, live in houses, ride in wagons, send the children to school, drink whiskey and own property.

    1. He didn’t believe the Indians were civilized

    2. Didn’t think they were fit to own the land, and use it to their advantage as much as the settlers would


Henry Dawes viewed the settlers as a much more advanced and higher class society than the indians. The indians were not as complex and experienced with the way they lived as the indians were so Dawes decided that the settlers should have the land since they would use it to it’s full potential unlike the indians.


  1. The Dawes Act authorized the President of the U.S. to survey the Indian land and divide it into allotments or amounts for individual indians.

    1. land was taken and given to settlers based on age and what their role was within a family

    2. land taken away was used to build railroads


Settlers decided to use the land wisely and divde it to where people could live or build things for use like rail roads for transportation of goods and crops. This also affected the indians because a lot of their land was being taken away from them.


  1. This act held that land was deceeded by the government from the Native Americans, pushing them further west.

    1. The Native Americans were pushed far west into Kansas and other surrounding states

    2. Any Indian born an Indian but that separates themselves from their tribe and acts civilized and dresses civilized is a citizen of the U.S.


The indians moved farther west because of the land that was being taken away from them. They moved to be separate from the settlers, and those that left the tribe to live in the allottments became U.S. citizens.


  1. This act also protected the laws of the United States and their new land over the Indians.

    1. Any civilized Indian that became a citizen of the U.S. has all rights, privileges, and immunities of such citizens

    2. Any time the President thought land any Indian tribe was on was worth something for agricultural or grazing purposes was allotted from such tribes


The indian culture was changing because of the land that was being taken away from the tribes, and because of this many indians left their tribes to have the same rights as the other U.S. citizens did. Some believed this would benefit them so they left their tribes.


  1. This act was used to illegally deprive native americans of their land rights.

    1. settlers wanted indians to give up their traditional way of life to become farmers

    2. ended the indians communal holding of property


The act was to use the land for the settlers use, and use the indians to help farm and grow crops. Many tribes lost land that was deliberantly taken away from them without any of their say. Many of these indians had no choice but to either move or give up their traditional ways of life to help farm and grow crops.

The Dawes Act of 1887

Eventually, the Indians were left with a small amount of land compared to what they had on day one. The majority of the land accustomed to the Indians was not suitable for farming. The settlers wanted Indians to be accustomed to their way of life, for they believed they were uncivilized and inadequately used their land. The settlers thought they could do much more with the land they had. They wanted the Indians to become a part of their society and blend into their way of life. Instead of taking them in and showing them their ways, the settlers ripped the land from under the Indians feet. Although, some Indian tribes dispersed to become citizens, others stuck to their roots and fought for themselves. All in all, the Act didn't do as much good as expected. (m)
The Dawes Act of 1887

citations

1. “Cleveland signs devastating Dawes Act into law, “The History Channel website,

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cleveland-signs-devastating-dawes-act- into-law (accessed Sep 24, 2014).


2. “The Dawes Act February 8, 1887”, “The PBS website, http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/eight/dawes.htm (accesed Sep 20, 2014).


3. “Dawes Act 1887”, www.ourdocuments.gov”, http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=50 (accessed Sep 20, 2014).


4. “Indian Removal Act 1887” “Novelguide”, http://www.novelguide.com/reportessay/history/american-history/indian-removal-act-1830 (accessed Sep 20, 2014).


5. “American Indians Today” “American Indians” http://www.american-indians.net/today.htm (accessed Sep 22, 2014).


6. “Chief Seattle’s Letter” “Chief Seattle’s letter to all the people”, http://www.barefootsworld.net/seattle.html (accessed Sep 24, 2014).


7. "Wounded Knee" Haiku Deck", https://www.haikudeck.com/native-american-history--jj-martin-events-presentation-1H3ONqtvHT (accessed Sep 24, 2014).

Notes


1. History Channel Website, “Cleveland signs devastating Dawes Act into law” 1.


History Channel Website, “Cleveland signs devastating Dawes Act into law” 1. “Cleveland signs devastating Dawes Act into law, “The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cleveland-signs-devastating-dawes-act-into-law (accessed Sep 24, 2014).



2. PBS website, “The Dawes Act February 8, 1887” 2.


PBS website, “The Dawes Act February 8, 1887” 2. “The Dawes Act February 8, 1887”, “The PBS website, http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/eight/dawes.htm (accesed Sep 20, 2014).



3. Our Documents, “Dawes Act 1887” 3.


Our Documents, “Dawes Act 1887” 3. “Dawes Act 1887”, “www.ourdocuments.gov”, http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=50 (accessed Sep 20, 2014).



4. Novelguide, “Indian Removal Act 1887” 4.


Novelguide, “Indian Removal Act 1887” 4. “Indian Removal Act 1887” “Novelguide”, http://www.novelguide.com/reportessay/history/american-history/indian-removal-act-1830 (accessed Sep 20, 2014).



5. American Indians, “American Indians Today” 5.


American Indians, “American Indians Today” 5. “American Indians Today” “American Indians” http://www.american-indians.net/today.htm (accessed Sep 22, 2014).



6. Chief Seattle’s Letter, “Chief Seattle’s letter to all the people” 6.


Chief Seattle’s Letter, “Chief Seattle’s letter to all the people” 6. “Chief Seattle’s Letter” “Chief Seattle’s letter to all the people”, http://www.barefootsworld.net/seattle.html (accessed Sep 24, 2014).



7. Haiku Deck, "Wounded Knee" 7.


Haiku Deck, "Wounded Knee" 7. "Wounded Knee" Haiku Deck", https://www.haikudeck.com/native-american-history--jj-martin-events-presentation-1H3ONqtvHT (accessed Sep 24, 2014).


8. Video


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45HATCWo2PQ