Ideas Behind Dawes Act
  • This Act was passed in an attempt to integrate Native Americans into white society
  • Land ownership was slowly changed from tribal to individual
  • People believed if a Native American adopted white cultures, he could assimilate into white society
  • Congress would no longer have to meddle in Indian affairs

Specifics of the Dawes Act
  • The Act was written by Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts
  • Act was passed on February 8, 1887
  • President has the power to break up Indian tribal lands and distribute them to individuals.
  • For an individual Indian family to gain land, they had to enroll with the Bureau of Indian Affairs adn then were considered for land distribution.
  • Under the Act the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles were not to be meddled with but due to other events this was changed by Grover Cleveland, who said that these tribes would be given land to share if they accepted federal laws.
Here is a quote from the Act itself describing on how much land went to the father of each Native American family.: “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…”
Map of Indian Distribution in Oklahaoma
Map of Indian Distribution in Oklahaoma

Results of the Dawes Act