What was the effect of the Dawes Act of 1887?

1 Answer
Feb 2, 2018


It authorized the President of the United States to survey American Indian tribal land and divide it into allotments for individual Indians


Its long title was "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."

It was aimed at assimilating Native Americans but served as a pretext to take over their lands. It led to the 1889 Land Rush in Oklahoma during which 50,000 settlers rushed to Oklahoma. They were called the "Sooners".

During the following decades, the Five Civilized Tribes lost 90 million acres of former communal lands, which were bought by non-Natives. Moreover, many individuals, unfamiliar with land ownership, became the target of speculators and criminals, were stuck with allotments that were too small for profit-making farming, and lost their household lands. Tribe members also suffered from the destruction of the social structure of the tribes.