GROVER CLEVELAND SIGNED THE DAWES ACT 130 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The General Allotment Act, sponsored by Republican Senator Henry L. Dawes* of Massachusetts, also known as the Dawes Severalty Act, was signed into law a century and thirty years ago today, February 8, 1887, by President Grover Cleveland.
The intent of the act was to assimilate Native Americans by ending tribal control of reservation lands and by dividing these lands into plots. The act provided males with families 160 acres, single males with 80 acres and boys with 40 acres. The Dawes Act opened up for sale the remaining Indian reservation lands to white settlement. 86 million acres of reservation lands would be purchased.
In 1928, the Meriam Report, issued during the administration of President Calvin Coolidge, found that the Dawes Act had been used illegally to deprive Native Americans of land rights.
The act's provisions ended with the Wheeler-Howard Act of 1934 which allowed Native Americans to once again own land communally.
*Henry Laurens Dawes (1816-1903) was born in Cummington, MA & graduated from Yale University. He was a founding member of the Monday Evening Club, a men's literary society. HLD served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives & served as DA in the state from 1853-1857. He served in the US Senate from 1875 to 1893.