The Suffering of My People

8 Feb

By proxy.  And not aimed directly at my particular tribe–through we were mistreated too, and all natives eventually felt the ramifications of the law I’m about to broach.

On this day (February 8) in 1887, President Grover Cleveland signed the Dawes Severalty Act into legislation.  And have you even heard of it?  My guess is no.  Is this Native American month?  Wait?  Do we have one?  Let’s not forget the suffering of the real owner of this country while we remember achievements of African Americans and Civil Rights.  Neither one is more important then the other, yet the Indian plight is overlooked.  Back then, and still today.

Red (for the blood shed) is mine with much plagiarism from Wiki and HistoryChannel.com,, here are some facts about how the Dawes Act was a major factor in the ruin my people:

-The stated objective of the Dawes Act was to stimulate assimilation of Indians into American society.

-Individual ownership of land was seen as an essential step. The act also provided that the government would purchase Indian land “excess” to that needed for allotment and open it up for settlement by non-Indians.  [Translation:  We want to sell this prime land to railroads, miners, and settlers–get OUT!]

-Dawes Act gave the president the power to divide Indian reservations into individual, privately owned plots.

-The compulsory Act forced natives to succumb to their inevitable fate; they would undergo severe attempts to become “Euro-Americanized” as the government allotted their reservations with or without their consent.

-Reformers believed that Indians would never bridge the chasm between “barbarism and civilization” if they maintained their tribal cohesion and traditional ways.

-Finally defeated by the US military force [after Indian Wars where traditionalists railed against losing their land and culture at the lowest of prices] and continuing waves of encroaching settlers, the tribes negotiated agreements to resettle on reservations.

-The act “was the culmination of American attempts to destroy tribes and their governments and to open Indian lands to settlement by non-Indians and to development by railroads.”[27]

-Land owned by Indians decreased from 138 million acres (560,000 km2) in 1887 to 48 million acres (190,000 km2) in 1934.[3]

-they lost 62 percent of their total pre-1887 holdings!

-promised benefits to the Indians never materialized.

-Racism, bureaucratic bungling, and inherent weaknesses in the law deprived the Indians of the strengths of tribal ownership, while severely limiting the economic viability of individual ownership.

-Many tribes also deeply resented and resisted the government’s heavy-handed attempt to destroy their traditional cultures.

-The amount of land in native hands rapidly depleted from some 150 million acres (610,000 km2) to a small 78 million acres (320,000 km2) by 1900.

-The remainder of the land once allotted to appointed natives was declared surplus and sold to non-native settlers as well as railroad and other large corporations; other sections were converted into federal parks and military compounds.

-Most allotment land, which could be sold after a statutory period of 25 years, was eventually sold to non-Native buyers at bargain prices.

-Despite these flaws, the Dawes Severalty Act remained in force for more than four decades [And the ramifications are still evident today]

So on this infamous day in history, please take time to remember the Native Americans and their plight at the hands of Angelo-ism (Europeans take over the world), politics, greed/capitalism, and many, many other factors.

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