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Dawes Severalty Act 1887 - Essay Example

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In defining “Native” in the term “Native American,” Native Americans or Indians have suffered from the biological determinism stance of the colonial government (Tripathy, 2006, p.318). …
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Dawes Severalty Act 1887
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Dawes Severalty Act 1887

Download file to see previous pages... Those who lived in reservations were also acknowledged as Indians (Tripathy, 2006, pp.318-319). The colonial state provided rules to assess the “Indianness” of an individual for the purposes of giving grants or land allotments (Tripathy, 2006, p.318). In 1887, the government passed the Dawes Severalty Act 1887 (hereinafter called the Act), which aimed to divide Indian lands into individual or family-owned parcels of lands and this involved identifying who the Indians were, so that they could be entitled to land allotment. This essay aims to describe and to assess the Act, with respect to its impact on American Indians, specifically the Cherokees. The Dawes Severalty Act 1887, also known as the General Allotment Act, outlined procedures that aimed to divide communal Native American territories into individual or family-owned properties (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). Government agents were in charge of these allotments. This approach opened around 90% of Indian land to non-Indian settlement (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). In numerous instances, the government paid Indians a per-capita share of these lands' sales price (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). ...
The Cherokees had not been greatly affected by the Act at first, although far-reaching negative results shaped their social and political organizations too. The positive effects of the policy are that it prepared families and children to think of themselves as farmers and landowners, and it also allowed proper land titling. Reformers wanted Indians to live as farmers and landowners, so that they could fit into the agricultural industry of that time (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). Unfortunately, the idea of “the Jeffersonian yeoman image” became “outdated” during the late nineteenth century, when America swiftly industrialized (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). Another positive effect of the Act is that it allowed proper land titling (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). It was easier for the government to allot lands to private owners, instead of treating large parcels of land as communal Indian territories. The Act, however, had more negative than positive effects. The Act broke tribal governments and family relations and resulted to reduction of Indian territories. First, the Act broke traditional extended family relations, because families had to live far away from each other. Tribal leaders had to part with some of their wives and children, since their lands were divided among their children and wives (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). Second, the Act also reduced the role and power of tribal governments (Native Americas, 1997, p.20). The Bureau of Indian Affairs' publications underscored that policies like the Dawes Act aimed to curtail the functions of tribal leaders and to enhance the political power of the state over Indians. Third, the Act only opened many lands to be owned by the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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