General Allotment Act (1887)

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  • The General Allotment Act (1887), also known as the Dawes Severalty Act, promoted the assimilation and Christianization of American Indians. Introduced by Sen. Henry Laurens Dawes, R-Mass., who was chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the act allowed the federal government to divide Native American reservations into plots of 160 acres each. Some believed this would provide Native Americans with land, education, and citizenship. The Dawes Act, signed by President Grover Cleveland, affected almost every tribe living on reservations, with the exception of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokees, Creek, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles) and a few other groups. The act consisted of four major provisions. One was to assign 160 acres of land to each American Indian household. Second, the federal government would ...

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