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Table of Contents
Dawes General Allotment Act, also called Dawes Severalty Act, is a U.S. law providing for the distribution of Indian reservation land among Native Americans.
See the fact file below for more information on the Dawes Act or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Dawes Act worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The ongoing hostilities between the white settlers and Native Americans from the very beginning of European colonization dragged on for many years as American settlers moved ever further west across the continent.
- Not wanting to share spaces with the natives, the US government created the reservation system in 1851 to keep Native Americans off lands on which European-Americans wished to settle.
- The indigenous people resisted heavily, resulting in the known Indian war. However, the US Army subdued Native Americans and forced them onto reservations.
- The white settlers continued occupying more territories and decided to force the Native Indians to undergo assimilation – the process of taking individuals or social groups and absorbing them into mainstream culture.
- To cement the process, the US government signed the Dawes Act into law on January 8, 1887, by US President Grover Cleveland.
- It was passed in an effort to alleviate American Indian poverty because US political leaders believed the Indians’ way of life was less civilized. To improve their condition, it was essential for them to adopt the principles of private property.
- They believed that only by disavowing their own traditions, could the Indians ever become truly “American.”
SALIENT PROVISIONS OF THE DAWES ACT
- Under the Dawes Act provision, the president determined the suitability of the recipients and issued the grants.
- In order to receive their allotment, Native Americans were required to enroll with the Office of Indian Affairs to be included in the “Dawes Rolls.”
- Each head of household receives 160 acres (65 hectares) and 80 acres (32 hectares) to each unmarried adult, with the stipulation that no grantee could alienate his land for 25 years. More specifically: “To each head of a family, one-quarter of a section; To each single person over eighteen years of age, one-eighth of a section; To each orphan child under eighteen years of age, one-eighth of a section; and To each other single person under eighteen years now living, or who may be born prior to the date of the order of the President directing an allotment of the lands embraced in any reservation, one-sixteenth of a section…”
- Section 8 of the act specified groups that were to be exempt from the law. It stated that: “the provisions of this act shall not extend to the territory occupied by the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles, and Osage, Miamies and Peorias, and Sacs and Foxes, in the Indian Territory, nor to any of the reservations of the Seneca Nation of New York Indians in the State of New York, nor to that strip of territory in the State of Nebraska adjoining the Sioux Nation on the south.”
- Subsequent events, however, extended the act’s provisions to these groups except the “Five Civilized Tribes” (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole).
- Characterized as “civilized,” they were protected by treaties that had guaranteed that their tribal lands would remain free of white settlers.
- However, the Curtis Act of 1898 amended the Dawes Act to apply to the Five Civilized Tribes as well.
- Over ninety million acres of their tribal lands were sold off to white Americans and their tribal governments and courts were obliterated.
EFFECTS OF DAWES ACT
- Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado, a critic of the act, revealed that the intent of the allotment plan was “to despoil the Native Americans of their lands and to make them vagabonds on the face of the earth.” It was quite prophetic.
- The act was historically controversial because it was designed to destroy the culture and the traditional way of life for many American Indian tribes.
- They initially owned about 150 million acres of land before the Dawes Act. But after the promulgation of the law, they lost the majority of it due to these allotment divisions and selling of the surplus. When tribes were paid for their land, they were also severely underpaid.
- Further, the land allotted to the native Indians generally included desert lands unsuitable for farming applying their traditional techniques of self-sufficient farming.
- Since not all Indians were original farmers, they did not want to take up agriculture. However, those who did want to farm could not afford the tools, animals, seed, and other supplies necessary to get started.
- There were also problems with inheritance. Heirs, often young children, were sent away to boarding schools so they could not farm.
- Multiple heirs also caused a problem. For families with several children, the land alloted became too small for efficient farming.
Dawes Act Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Dawes Act across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Dawes Act worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Dawes General Allotment Act, also called Dawes Severalty Act, which is a U.S. law providing for the distribution of Indian reservation land among Native Americans.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Dawes Act Facts
- The United States
- The Indians
- Five Civilized Tribes
- Wounded Knee Massacre
- Dawes Reaction
- Respecting the Culture
- Editorial Cartoon
- A Civilized Society
- Land for All
- Quick Review
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Link will appear as Dawes Act Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, June 4, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.