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United States ex rel. Standing Bear v. Crook

The Dawes Severalty Act

The Dawes Severalty Act, named after Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, is sometimes called the General Allotment Act. Passed in February of 1887, it established federal Indian policy for the next half-century, until its effective repeal by the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Under the Dawes Severalty Act, the president was authorized to order a survey of Indian reservations and, from the results, to allot homesteads to members of tribes. The act provided for each head of household to receive 160 acres, single adults 80 acres, and unmarried children 40 acres. These lands would be exempt from local property taxes for 25 years, but the owners were also prohibited from selling their allotments during that period. The land remaining would be sold to non-Indians. The allotment provisions proved disastrous to the Indians. The allotments chopped up land previously belonging to Indians and allowed much of it to be transferred to non-Indians. It forced Indians to adopt an agrarian lifestyle by expecting them to live off of their homesteads rather than hunting and gathering over a vast territory.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882United States ex rel. Standing Bear v. Crook - Significance, Indians Are "persons", Impact, The Dawes Severalty Act, Further Readings