Feb 8 – Cleveland signs the Dawes Severalty Act

GabeAmerican History(BR)

The Dawes Severalty Act was enacted in 1887 allowed the US government to take Native American tribal land and divide it among individual Native Americans. Those Native Americans who accepted the allotments were given citizenship but would be separated from their tribe. The excess land would be given to the federal government to sell to non-natives.The goal was for the federal government to be able to use the land to build railroads and raise money while assimilating Natives into American culture, built around the nuclear family. The result was a loss of 90 million acres of land for Native Americans. Most of those who did take their allotment were unable to profit from their land as it was too small to run a farm on.

  1. How was this law different from other approaches taken by the US government relating to tribal lands?
  2. How has this law affected Native Americans since?
  3. What alternative would you have proposed?

Image Citation:
[Photograph United States Department of the Interior advertisement offering ‘Indian Land for Sale’. The man pictured is a Yankton Sioux named Not Afraid Of Pawnee.].  Photo Credit:  WIKIMEDIA COMMONS PUBLIC DOMAIN United States Department of the Interior