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SIGN THIS AND GO AWAY: DEBATES SURROUNDING THE SETTLER COLONIAL PROJECT OF THE GENERAL ALLOTMENT ACT 1881-1906
|Title:||SIGN THIS AND GO AWAY: DEBATES SURROUNDING THE SETTLER COLONIAL PROJECT OF THE GENERAL ALLOTMENT ACT 1881-1906|
|Authors:||Foster, Eli KM|
|Contributors:||Arista, Noelani M. (advisor)|
Native American studies
|Publisher:||University of Hawai'i at Manoa|
This micro-history is an investigation of the debates about, work and results of the United States General Allotment Act of 1887, commonly called the Dawes Act. The legislation, adopted by the 49th U.S. Congress, allowed for the executive to terminate Indian tribal land holdings and tribal governments. Lands thus disposed were to be allotted to individual Indian people, who would, by accepting allotment, also receive United States citizenship. The stated goals of the Act were to dissolve tribal governments, make lands available for white settlement, and to lift tribal citizens out of poverty by allotment of their lands in severalty and with fee simple title with the object of assimilating them into the larger fabric of American society. The legislation can be argued to have failed utterly in achieving these goals, thus requiring further legislation in the mid-twentieth century. The result of the Dawes Act was a fragmented and virtually un-assimilated Indian population and increased poverty for Indian people. The General Allotment Act and the follow-on Curtis Act (1898) which extended the provisions of the Dawes act to include the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” were undertaken within the context of the demonstrable failure of the treaty and reservation system that preceded them in an effort to create a final solution to the “Indian Problem.” It has been argued that the stated goals of the Dawes Act and its implementation were based upon Indian reticence and resistance to white settlement of their lands, Indian people’s social incompatibility with white Americans, and the property based political philosophy of the United States, as well as influences brought to bear by religious minded philanthropists of a decidedly paternalistic bent. This history fills a gap in current historicizing of the Act by assessing the sources of justification used by members of Congress while debating the object of land in severalty as a civilizing agent for indigenous peoples. What common factor allowed them to pass legislation that superficially at least, appeared to be a complete reversal of existing Indian policy? The effects of the General Allotment Act have been historicized but the congressional debate about land in severalty is less well analyzed. Were congressional justifications based in U.S. Law or was their source extra-Constitutional? Evidence shows that the Allotment Act of 1887 was not a new idea, but rather an extension of an old one. U.S. Indian policy had not evolved into one of tribal dismantling and allotment of land in severalty with the Dawes Act. Rather the settler colonial project of the United States, encoded in the country’s founding documents and expressed as an outward bound and “Manifest Destiny” brought pressure on the Congress of the United States to provide living space for the immigrant and native-born settlers of the project. With the passage of the Dawes Act the government tried, as they had on previous policy attempts, to achieve their primary goal, the disappearing of the American Indian after nearly a half century of continuous attempts.
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|Appears in Collections:||
M.A. - History|
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