The Dawes Act

By: Gabby Isaacks & Matti Nation


In the late 1880s the Dawes Act had multiple negative effects against the Native Americans including social, cultural, and political. (GI)

The decreasing amount of buffalo herds were because of the white settlement on the Great Plains. In 1750 there were an estimated 30 million buffalo; by 1850 there were less than 10 million; and by 1900 only a few hundred of them were left. 1.

The buffalo disappeared from the western plains for a variety of environmental reasons, including a significant change in climate; competition for forage with horses, sheep, and cattle; and cattle-borne disease. 2.

Leaders spoke out against mistreatment of the Indians. In his annual message of 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes joined the protest: "Many, if not most, of our Indian wars have had their origin in broken promises and acts of injustice on our part." 3.

Helen Hunt Jackson, a novelist and poet, focused attention on the Indian cause in A Century of Dishonor. The interaction between Native Americans and white people was very hostile. Most white people didn't treat the Native Americans with respect. The settlers that came just saw them as obstacles in the way of making their money. The relationship between the white people and the Native Americans was very nonexistent. The white people didn't think much about the fact that they were taking the Native American's homes away from them. Henry Dawes was trying to change the Native Americans into farmers. Which leads to the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887. This was sponsored by Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, the act divided the land of any tribe, granting 160 acres to each head of a family a lesser amounts to others. 4.

To protect the Indians' property, the government held it in trust for twenty-five years, after which the owner won full title and became a US citizen. 5.

The population of bison from 1750-1920. (GI) 6.

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Pile of bison skulls after a massive hunt by the white people. (GI)

The lasting legacy...

The Indians still have problems with being accepted today. Between wanting their sacred land back, having troubles in school, and being bullied not much has changed since the !880s. (GI) 7.


1. Tindell, George Brown; Shi, David E. (2012) America: A Narrative History (Eighth

ed.) (Vol. 2), 774.

2. Ibid, 774.

3. Tindell, George Brown; Shi, David E. (2012) America: A Narrative History (Eighth

ed.) (Vol. 2), 775.

4. Ibid, 775.

5. Ibid, 775.

6. Saving Wildelife. "Bison." In Wildlife Conservation Society, edited by unknown, 2008. Visited on Oct. 23.

7. Nation. " Poverty compounds tough reservation life for Indian youths" In USA TODAY, edited by Ken BlackBird, 2005. Visited on Oct. 23.