The policies of European colonists who settled in North America towards Native Americans have changed drastically over time. Laws have been passed and policies have been established with the intention of either helping American Indians or keeping them away from the progress of the non-indigenous population. One such law was the Dawes Compensation Act (1887), which aimed to turn Indians into farmers by redistributing tribal land to household heads on 160-acre parcels. Unclaimed or “surplus” land was sold, and the profits were used to establish indigenous schools where Native American children learned to read, write, and understand the domestic and social systems of the United States.
By 1932, the sale of both unclaimed land and allotted land resulted in the loss of two-thirds of the 138 million acres that Native Americans had before the Dawes Act. The poverty and exploitation resulting from this paternalistic act prompted the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. This legislation promoted Native American autonomy by prohibiting the allocation of tribal land, returning some of the surplus land, and urging tribes to participate in active self-government. Instead of imposing legislation on Native Americans, individual tribes were allowed to accept or reject the Indian Reorganization Act. From 1934 to 1953, the U.
S. government invested in infrastructure development, health care, education and improved the quality of life on indigenous lands. With the help of federal courts and the government, more than two million acres of land were returned to several tribes. It is often overlooked that self-government in the United States was practiced by Native Americans long before the formation of the United States government. However, Native Americans faced centuries of struggle before they acquired full U.
citizenship and legal protection for their voting rights. Many government officials felt that Native Americans should be assimilated to the dominant culture of the United States before obtaining the right to vote. The Snyder Act of 1924 admitted Native Americans born in the U. as citizens, although it took more than forty years for all fifty states to allow Native Americans to vote. In 1965, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act and subsequent legislation in 1970, 1975 and 1982, many other electoral protections were reaffirmed and strengthened. Other groups that advocated for Native American citizenship supported it because of their belief that the United States government had an obligation to oversee and protect indigenous peoples.
They promoted the tribal rights and property clause in the Indian Citizenship Act to preserve Indian identity but gain citizenship rights and protection. This law stipulated that all Native Americans born in the United States were automatically citizens by birth. Native Americans were the last major group to obtain this right established in the Fourteenth Amendment. The policy of allocation to American Indian reservations was implemented through many legislative instruments.
This section provides brief summaries and links to all general legislation on allotment, including the General Allocation Act of 1887, its amendments, and the most recent legislation affecting Indian land tenure.
The Impact on Native American Communities in Indian Land, South CarolinaThe Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 had a profound impact on native American communities in Indian Land, South Carolina. It granted them full U.
citizenship rights and legal protection for their voting rights after centuries of struggle against oppressive government policies such as those imposed by the Dawes Act. The Snyder Act also allowed them access to infrastructure development, health care, education and improved quality of life on indigenous lands. The passage of this act was supported by groups advocating for Native American citizenship due to their belief that it was necessary for federal guardianship to protect indigenous peoples from exploitation by non-indigenous Americans who sought to take advantage of them for their land. The Indian Rights Association argued that federal guardianship was a necessary component of citizenship. In addition to extending voting rights to Native Americans, this act also provided for tribal rights and property clauses which preserved their identity while granting them citizenship rights and protection. Although it took more than forty years for all fifty states to allow Native Americans to vote due to mechanisms such as election taxes, literacy tests, fraud, and intimidation that prevented African Americans from exercising that right. The 1965 Voting Rights Act and subsequent legislation in 1970, 1975 and 1982 further strengthened these protections for native American communities in Indian Land, South Carolina.
The Indian Citizenship Act has been instrumental in allowing them access to full U. citizenship rights after centuries of struggle against oppressive government policies.