Dawes Act

(redirected from Dawes General Allotment Act)

Dawes Act

or

General Allotment Act,

1887, passed by the U.S. Congress to provide for the granting of landholdings (allotments, usually 160 acres/65 hectares) to individual Native Americans, replacing communal tribal holdings. Sponsored by U.S. Senator H. L. DawesDawes, Henry Laurens,
1816–1903, U.S. Senator (1875–93), b. Cummington, Mass. He was U.S. district attorney for W Massachusetts (1853–57) and a Republican member of the House of Representatives (1857–75).
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, the aim of the act was to absorb tribe members into the larger national society. Allotments could be sold after a statutory period (25 years), and "surplus" land not allotted was opened to settlers. Within decades following the passage of the act the vast majority of what had been tribal land in the West was in white hands.

The act also established a trust fund to collect and distribute proceeds from oil, mineral, timber, and grazing leases on Native American lands. The failure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to manage this trust fund properly led to legislation and lawsuits in the 1990s and early 2000s to force the government to properly account for the revenues collected.

References in periodicals archive ?
In Dividing the Reservation, research is unearthed on ethnologist Alice Cunningham Fletcher, who was one of the first female federal Indian agents and helped write the Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887.
The Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887, one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting Native Americans and the mechanism for the reduction of reservation lands by about two-thirds, nearly included an amendment making it voluntary instead of compulsory.
Produced through collaboration between academic and tribal communities, this text considers how the Oneida Indians of Wisconsin were affected by the Dawes General Allotment Act (1887), the Burke Act (1906), and the Federal Competency Commission (created in 1917).