Dawes Act: Wikis

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The Dawes General Allotment Act was enacted on February 8, 1887, regarding the distribution of land to Native Americans in Oklahoma. Named after its sponsor, U.S. Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, the act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906 by the Burke Act. The act remained in effect until 1934. The act provided for the division of tribally held lands into individually owned parcels and opening "surplus" lands to settlement by non-Indians and development by railroads.[1]

Contents

Effects

The Dawes Act, with its emphasis on individual land ownership, also had a negative impact on the unity, self-government, and culture of Indian tribes.[2]

By dividing reservation lands into privately-owned parcels, legislators hoped to complete the assimilation process by forcing the deterioration of the communal life-style of the Native societies and imposing Western-oriented values of strengthening the nuclear family and values of economic dependency strictly within this small household unit.[3]

The land granted to most allottees was not sufficient for economic viability, and division of land between heirs upon the allottees' deaths resulted in land fractionalization. Most allotment land, which could be sold after a statutory period of 25 years, was eventually sold to non-Native buyers at bargain prices. Additionally, land deemed to be "surplus" beyond what was needed for allotment was opened to white settlers, though the profits from the sales of these lands were often invested in programs meant to aid the American Indians. Native Americans lost, over the 47 years of the Act's life, about 90 million acres (360,000 km²) of treaty land, or about two-thirds of the 1887 land base. About 90,000 Indians were made landless.[2]

In 1906 the Burke Act (also known as the forced patenting act) further amended the GAA to give the Secretary of the Interior the power to issue allotees a patent in fee simple to people classified ‘competent and capable.’ The criteria for this determination is unclear but meant that allotees deemed ‘competent’ by the Secretary of the Interior would have their land taken out of trust status, subject to taxation, and could be sold by the allottee. The allotted lands of Indians determined to be incompetent by the Secretary of the Interior were automatically leased out by the Federal Government.[4] The act reads:

...the Secretary of the Interior may, in his discretion, and he is hereby authorized, whenever he shall be satisfied that any Indian allottee is competent and capable of managing his or her affairs at any time to cause to be issued to such allottee a patent in fee simple, and thereafter all restrictions as to sale, encumbrance, or taxation of said land shall be removed.

The use of competence opens up the categorization, making it much more subjective and thus increasing the exclusionary power of the Secretary of Interior. Although this act gives power to the allottee decide whether to keep or sell the land, provided the harsh economic reality of the time, lack of access to credit and markets, liquidation of Indian lands was almost inevitable. It was known by the department of interior that virtually 95% of fee patented land would eventually be sold to whites.[5]

The allotment policy depleted the land base, ending hunting as a means of subsistence. According to Victorian ideals, the men were forced into the fields to take on what had traditionally been the woman's role and the women were relegated to the domestic sphere. This Act imposed a patrilineal nuclear household onto many matrilineal Native societies. Native gender roles and relations quickly changed with this policy since communal living shaped the social order of Native communities. Women were no longer the caretakers of the land and they were no longer valued in the public political sphere. Even in the home, the Native woman was dependent on her husband. Before allotment, women divorced easily and had important political and social status, as they were usually the center of their kin network. To receive the full 160 acres (0.65 km2), women had to be officially married.

In 1926, Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work commissioned a study of federal administration of Indian policy and the condition of Indian people. Completed in 1936, The Problem of Indian Administration – commonly known as the Meriam Report after the study's director, Lewis Meriam – documented fraud and misappropriation by government agents. In particular, the Meriam Report found that the General Allotment Act had been used to illegally deprive Native Americans of their land rights. After considerable debate, Congress terminated the allotment process under the Dawes Act by enacting the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 ("Wheeler-Howard Act"). However, the allotment process in Alaska under the separate Alaska Native Allotment Act continued until its revocation in 1993 by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Despite termination of the allotment process in 1934, effects of the General Allotment Act continue into the present. For example, one provision of the Act was the establishment of a trust fund, administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to collect and distribute revenues from oil, mineral, timber, and grazing leases on Native American lands. The BIA's alleged improper management of the trust fund resulted in litigation, in particular the in case Cobell v. Kempthorne (settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion), to force a proper accounting of revenues.

Contemporary interpretations

Angie Debo's landmark work, And Still the Waters Run: The Betrayal of the Five Civilized Tribes (completed 1936, published 1940), detailed how the allotment policy of the Dawes Act (as later extended to apply to the Five Civilized Tribes through such devices as the Dawes Commission and the Curtis Act of 1898) was systematically manipulated to deprive the Native Americans of their lands and resources.[6] In the words of historian Ellen Fitzpatrick, Debo's book "advanced a crushing analysis of the corruption, moral depravity, and criminal activity that underlay white administration and execution of the allotment policy."[7]

John LaVelle of the University of New Mexico contends that Ward Churchill's interpretation of a "blood quantum" dimension in the Dawes Act is "sorely lacking in historical/factual veracity and scholarly integrity."[8] LaVelle contends that the Act contains no blood quantum requirement, and that such requirements were adopted voluntarily by tribes, and not imposed by the US government. LaVelle asserts that the "main flaw of this federal/tribal conspiracy theory is that it rests on and propagates demonstrably false information concerning the contents and impact of the General Allotment Act."

See also

References

  1. ^ Kidwell, Clara Sue. "Allotment." Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved 29 Dec 2009)
  2. ^ a b Case DS, Voluck DA (2002). Alaska Natives and American Laws (2nd ed. ed.). Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press. pp. 104–5. ISBN 9781889963082. 
  3. ^ Gibson, Arrell M. Gibson. "Indian Land Transfers." Handbook of North American Indians: History of Indian-White Relations, Volume 4. Wilcomb E. Washburn & William C. Sturtevant, eds. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1988. Pages 226–29
  4. ^ Bartecchi D (2007-02-19). "The History of "Competency" as a Tool to Control Native American Lands". Pine Ridge Project. http://villageearth.org/pages/Projects/Pine_Ridge/pineridgeblog/2007/02/history-of-competency-as-tool-to.html. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  5. ^ Robertson, 2002
  6. ^ Listing for And Still the Waters Run at Princeton University Press website (retrieved January 9, 2009).
  7. ^ Ellen Fitzpatrick, History's Memory: Writing America's Past, 1880-1980 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), ISBN 067401605X, p. 133, excerpt available online at Google Books.
  8. ^ Ravitch, Diane. "Ward Churchill Exposed." The New York Sun. 30 March 2005 (retrieved 29 Dec 2009)

Further reading

  • Debo, Angie. And Still the Waters Run: The Betrayal of the Five Civilized Tribes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940; new edition, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984), ISBN 0691046158.
  • Olund, Eric N. (2002). “Public Domesticity during the Indian Reform Era; or, Mrs. Jackson is induced to go to Washington.” Gender, Place, and Culture 9: 153-166.
  • Stremlau, Rose. (2005). “To Domesticate and Civilize Wild Indians”: Allotment and the Campaign to Reform Indian Families, 1875-1887. Journal of Family History 30: 265-286.

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Dawes Act
by United States Congress
Approved on February 8, 1887, the Dawes Act, emphasized severalty, the treatment of Native Americans as individuals rather than as members of tribes.
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Dawes Act.
Forty-Ninth Congress of the United States of America;
At the Second Session,
Begun and held at the city of Washington, on Monday, the sixth day of December, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six.
═══════════════════════════════════════
AN ACT
To provide for the allotment of lands in severalty to Indians on the various reservations, and to extend the protection of the laws of the United States and the Territories over the Indians, and for other purposes.
═══════════════════════════════════════

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases where any tribe or band of Indians has been, or shall hereafter be, located upon any reservation created for their use, either by treaty stipulation or by virtue of an act of Congress or executive order setting apart the same for their use, the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, authorized, whenever in his opinion any reservation or any part thereof of such Indians is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes, to cause said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed, or resurveyed if necessary, and to allot the lands in said reservation in severalty to any Indian located thereon in quantities as follows:

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: Provided, That in case there is not sufficient land in any of said reservations to allot lands to each individual of the classes above named in quantities as above provided, the lands embraced in such reservation or reservations shall be allotted to each individual of each of said classes pro rata in accordance with the provisions of this act: And provided further, That where the treaty or act of Congress setting apart such reservation provides the allotment of lands in severalty in quantities in excess of those herein provided, the President, in making allotments upon such reservation, shall allot the lands to each individual Indian belonging thereon in quantity as specified in such treaty or act: And provided further, That when the lands allotted are only valuable for grazing purposes, an additional allotment of such grazing lands, in quantities as above provided, shall be made to each individual.

Sec. 2. That all allotments set apart under the provisions of this act shall be selected by the Indians, heads of families selecting for their minor children, and the agents shall select for each orphan child, and in such manner as to embrace the improvements of the Indians making the selection. where the improvements of two or more Indians have been made on the same legal subdivision of land, unless they shall otherwise agree, a provisional line may be run dividing said lands between them, and the amount to which each is entitled shall be equalized in the assignment of the remainder of the land to which they are entitled under his act: Provided, That if any one entitled to an allotment shall fail to make a selection vithin four years after the President shall lirect that allotments may be made on a particular reservation, the Secretary of the Interior may direct the agent of such tribe or band, if such there be, and if there be no agent, then a special agent appointed for that purpose, to make a selection for such Indian, which selection shall be allotted as in cases where selections are made by the Indians, and patents shall issue in like manner.

Sec. 3. That the allotments provided for in this act shall be made by special agents appointed by the President for such purpose, and the agents in charge of the respective reservations on which the allotments are directed to be made, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may from time to time prescribe, and shall be certified by such agents to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, in duplicate, one copy to be retained in the Indian Office and the other to be transmitted to the Secretary of the Interior for his action, and to be deposited in the General Land Office.

Sec. 4. That where any Indian not residing upon a reservation, or for whose tribe no reservation has been provided by treaty, act of Congress, or executive order, shall make settlement upon any surveyed or unsurveyed lands of the United States not otherwise appropriated, he or she shall be entitled, upon application to the local land-office for the district in which the lands arc located, to have the same allotted to him or her, and to his or her children, in quantities and manner as provided in this act for Indians residing upon reservations; and when such settlement is made upon unsurveyed lands, the grant to such Indians shall be adjusted upon the survey of the lands so as to conform thereto; and patents shall be issued to them for such lands in the manner and with the restrictions as herein provided. And the fees to which the officers of such local land-office would have been entitled had such lands been entered under the general laws for the disposition of the public lands shall be paid to them, from any moneys in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, upon a statement of an account in their behalf for such fees by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and a certification of such account to the Secretary of the Treasury by the Secretary of the Interior.

Sec. 5. That upon the approval of the allotments provided for in this act by the Secretary of the Interior, he shall cause patents to issue therefor in the name of the allottees, which patents shall be of the legal effect, and declare that the United States does and will hold the land thus allotted, for the period of twenty-five years, in trust for the sole use and benefit of the Indian to whom such allotment shall have been made, or, in case of his decease, of his heirs according to the laws of the State or Territory where such land is located, and that at the expiration of said period the United States will convey the same by patent to said Indian, or his heirs as aforesaid, in fee, discharged of said trust and free of all charge or incumbrance whatsoever: Provided, That the President of the United States may in any case in his discretion extend the period. And if any conveyance shall be made of the lands set apart and allotted as herein provided, or any contract made touching the same, before the expiration of the time above mentioned, such conveyance or contract shall be absolutely null and void: Provided, That the law of descent and partition in force in the State or Territory where such lands are situate shall apply thereto after patents therefor have been executed and delivered, except as herein otherwise provided; and the laws of the State of Kansas regulating the descent and partition of real estate shall, so far as practicable, apply to all lands in the Indian Territory which may be allotted in severalty under the provisions of this act: And provided further, That at any time after lands have been allotted to all the Indians of any tribe as herein provided, or sooner if in the opinion of the President it shall be for the best interests of said tribe, it shall be lawful for the Secretary of the Interior to negotiate with such Indian tribe for the purchase and release by said tribe, in conformity with the treaty or statute under which such reservation is held, of such portions of its reservation not allotted as such tribe shall, from time to time, consent to sell, on such terms and conditions as shall be considered just and equitable between the United States and said tribe of Indians, which purchase shall not be complete until ratified by Congress, and the form and manner of executing such release prescribed by Congress: Provided however, That all lands adapted to agriculture, with or without irrigation so sold or released to the United States by any Indian tribe shall be held by the United States for the sale purpose of securing homes to actual settlers and shall be disposed of by the United States to actual and bona fide settlers only tracts not exceding one hundred and sixty acres to any one person, on such terms as Congress shall prescribe, subject to grants which Congress may make in aid of education: And provided further, That no patents shall issue therefor except to the person so taking the same as and homestead, or his heirs, and after the expiration of five years occupancy therof as such homestead; and any conveyance of said lands taken as a homestead, or any contract touching the same, or lieu thereon, created prior to the date of such patent, shall be null and void. And the sums agreed to be paid by the United States as purchase money for any portion of any such reservation shall be held in the Treasury of the United States for the sole use of the tribe or tribes Indians; to whom such reservations belonged; and the same, with interest thereon at three per cent per annum, shall be at all times subject to appropriation by Congress for the education and civilization of such tribe or tribes of Inians or the members thereof. The patents aforesaid shall be recorded in the General Land Office, and afterward delivered, free of charge, to the allottee entitled thereto. And if any religious society or other organization is now occupying any of the public lands to which this act is applicable, for religious or educationl work among the Indians, the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to confirm such occupation to such society or organization, in quantity not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres in any one tract, so long as the same shall be so occupied, on such terms as he shall deem just; but nothing herein contained shall change or alter any claim of such society for religious or educational purposes heretofore granted by law. And hereafter in the employment of Indian police, or any other employes in the public service among any of the Indian tribes or bands affected by this act, and where Indians can perform the duties required, those Indians who have availed themselves of the provisions of this act and become citizens of the United States shall be preferred.

Sec. 6. That upon the completion ef said allotments and the patenting of the lands to said allottees, each and every nmmber of the respective bands or tribes of Indians to whom allotments have been made shall have the benefit of and be subject to the laws, both civil and criminal, of the State or Territory in which they may reside; and no Territory shall pass or enforce any law denying any such Indian within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. And every Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States to whom allotments shall have been made under the provisions of this act, or under any law or treaty, and every Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States who has voluntarily taken up, within said limits, his residence separate and apart from any tribe of Indians therein, and has adopted the habits of civilized life, is hereby declared to be a citizen of the United States, and is entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of such citizens, whether said Indian has been or not, by birth or otherwise, a member of any tribe of Indians within the territorial limits of the United States without in any manner affecting the right of any such Indian to tribal or other property.

Sec. 7. That in cases where the use of water for irrigation is necessary to render the lands within any Indian reservation available for agricultural purposes, the Secretary of the Interior be, and he is hereby, authorized to prescribe such rules and regulations as he may deem necessary to secure a just and equal distribution thereof among the Indians residing upon any such reservation; and no oother appropriation or grant of water by any riparian proprietor shall permitted to the damage of any other riparian proprietor.

Sec. 8. 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 added by executive order.

Sec. 9. That for the purpose of making the surveys and resurveys mentioned in section two of this act, there be, and hereby is, appropriated, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, to be repaid proportionately out of the proceeds of the sales of such land as may be acquired from the Indians under the provisions of this act.

Sec. 10. That nothing in this act contained shall be so canstrued to affect the right and power of Congress to grant the right of way through any lands granted to an Indian, or a tribe of Indians, for railroads or other highways, or telegraph lines, for the public use, or condemn such lands to public uses, upon making just compensation.

Sec. 11. That nothing in this act shall be so construed as to prevent the removal of the Southern Ute Indians from their present reservation in Southwestern Colorado to a new reservation by and with consent of a majority of the adult male members of said tribe.

Approved, February, 8, 1887.

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

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