Dawes Act of 1887, 02/08/1887
Approved on February 8, 1887, “An Act to Provide for the Allotment of Lands in Severalty to Indians on the Various Reservations,” known as the Dawes Act, emphasized severalty, the treatment of Native Americans as individuals rather than as members of tribes.
The new policy focused specifically on breaking up reservations by granting land allotments to individual Native Americans. At the time it was reasoned that if a person adopted white clothing and ways, and was responsible for his own farm, he would gradually drop his Indian-ness and be assimilated into the population. It would then no longer be necessary for the government to oversee Indian welfare in the paternalistic way it had been obligated to do, or provide meager annuities that seemed to keep the Indian in a subservient and poverty-stricken position.
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