Posted by: lemmod | May 10, 2010

Dawes Severalty Act

Other than the Trail Of Tears, another event extremely significant in American Indian history was the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887. Unlike the American Indian Removal Act, the Dawes Severalty Act instead tried to force and assimilate American Indians into United States culture. With this act, Indian reservation lands were converted into individual ownership and the land soon became divided. Through this act, American Indians lost any legal standing they had. Also, should any American Indian renounce their tribal land share, they could then be eligible to become an American citizen. By doing this, they would then receive a land grant which gave them either 160 acres of land should one have a family, or 80 acres of land should they be living alone. This act alone severely hurt American Indians throughout the United States and reduced their overall land share. From this act, American Indians who once controlled 138 million acres of land in 1887 were eventually reduced down to 78 million acres by 1900. Finally, in 1934, this policy was reversed by the Indian Reorganization Act. This policy which reversed the Dawes act was beneficial to American Indians and emphasized the importance of American Indian cultural institutions, as well as allowed some lands to be returned to select tribes.

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