Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Living Edition
| Editors: Kevin W. Gray

The Dawes Act and Territorial Rights

Living reference work entry



The Dawes Act, 1887, named after its creator Senator Henry Laurens Dawes, gave authority to the President of the United States to survey the Five Civilized Tribes’ (the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole) land and create separate 4-0, 80-, or 160-acre allotments for individual Native Americans (Prucha 1975). Native Americans who accepted individual allotments and lived separately from their tribes were promised US citizenship, although citizenship was not actually granted until 1924 (Merjian 2010; Fitzpatrick 2004; Prucha 1975; Stremlau 2005). After allotments were allocated, the government had the authority to sell the remaining “surplus” land to non-Natives, allowing for greater European settlement through the opening of Native lands (Merjian 2010; Prucha 1975). The Act was amended in 1891, 1898, and 1906 until it was finally repealed in 1934. More broadly, the Dawes...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Lavonna L. Lovern
    • 1
  1. 1.Valdosta State UniversityValdostaUSA