Dawes General Allotment Act


Dawes General Allotment Act
or Dawes Severalty Act

(1887) U.S. land-distribution law proposed by Sen.

Henry L. Dawes (1816–1903) of Massachusetts as a way to "civilize" and make farmers of the American Indians. Grants of 80 to 160 acres were offered to each Indian head of household, though actual ownership was withheld for 25 years to guard against sales to speculators. The unintended result was a weakened tribal structure, the inability of many nomadic Indians to adjust to an agrarian existence, and a reservation life of poverty, disease, and despondency. Under the provision that made available for public sale any "surplus" reservation land, whites had acquired two-thirds of the Indian land by 1932.

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United States [1887]
also called  Dawes Severalty Act 
 (Feb. 8, 1887), U.S. law providing for the distribution of Indian reservation land among individual tribesmen, with the aim of creating responsible farmers in the white man's image. It was sponsored in several sessions of Congress by Sen. Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts and finally was enacted in February 1887. Under its terms, the president determined the suitability of the recipients and issued the grants, usually by a formula of 160 acres to each head of household and 80 acres to each unmarried adult, with the stipulation that no grantee could alienate his land for 25 years. The Indians who thus received land became U.S. citizens, subject to federal, state, and local laws. The original supporters of the act were genuinely interested in the welfare of the Indians, but there were not enough votes in Congress to pass it until it was amended to provide that any land remaining after the allotment to the Indians would be available for public sale. The combined influence of friends of the Indians and land speculators assured passage of the act.

      Under the Dawes Act, Indian life deteriorated in a manner not anticipated by its sponsors. The social structure of the tribe was weakened; many nomadic Indians were unable to adjust to an agricultural existence; others were swindled out of their property; and life on the reservation came to be characterized by disease, filth, poverty, and despondency. The act also provided that any “surplus” land be made available to whites, who by 1932 had acquired two-thirds of the 138,000,000 acres the Indians had held in 1887.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • General Allotment Act of 1887 — Der General Allotment Act of 1887, auch Dawes Act genannt, war ein US Gesetz, welches das Reservationsland parzellierte. Schon seit 1871 hatte die Regierung der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika die Stämme der US amerikanischen Ureinwohner… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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