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The Curtis Act of 1898 was an amendment to the United States Dawes Act that brought about the allotment process of lands of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma: the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Cherokee, and Seminole. These tribes had been previously exempt from the 1887 General Allotment Act, also known as the Dawes Act (also known as the Dawes Severalty Act, named for its sponsor and author Senator Henry Laurens Dawes).[1] By effectively abolishing tribal courts and tribal governments in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, the act enabled Oklahoma to attain statehood, which followed some years later. [2]

The Act, officially titled the "Act for the Protection of the People of Indian Territory", is named for Charles Curtis, its original author. He was of Native American and European descent, had grown up in both cultures, and was a member of the United States House of Representatives. He was also an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation.[3]

Although Charles Curtis was the author of the original draft of the Act, by the time the bill HR 8581 had gone through five revisions in committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate; there was little of Curtis' original draft left to become law. In his autobiography, Curtis said that he was unhappy with the final version of the Curtis Act. Curtis believed that the Five Civilized Tribes needed to make changes. He thought that the way ahead for Native Americans was through education and use of both their and the majority cultures, but he also had hoped to give more support to Native American transitions.

See also


  1. ^ Wright, Muriel H. A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. 1968
  2. ^ Prucha, Francis Paul. Indian Policy in the United States, Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1981
  3. ^ US, Statutes at Large, XXX, 495

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