Dawes Act

(redirected from Dawes Severalty Act)

Dawes Act


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 ?
Some examples of specific article topics include the Battle of the Alamo, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Samuel Clements (Mark Twain), the Dawes Severalty Act, dime novels, firearms, the idea of the frontier, the Grand Canyon, land speculation, migrant laborers, newspapers and journals, race relations, Theodore Roosevelt, Sitting Bull, the telegraph, transcontinental railroads, water and immigration, and Western music.
Indian boarding schools attempted to eradicate native languages and impose Christianity, while laws such as the Dawes Severalty Act worked finally to erase indigenous relationships with their land (1-22).