The Dawes Act is a $100,000 government created land allotment for the Native Americans. It prevented the land for being used for anything other than agricultural purposes, gave the Native Americans a choice of the land that they wanted, It prohibited the Ute Indians of Southwestern Colorado from being prevented of moving if a majority of the male adult members deemed a move to a new reservation necessary, but the land had to be used for agricultural purposes. Once land was allotted, it was kept on file. This acceptance of land made the Native subject to the Territory’s laws. Not all Native American tribes were included.
For example, the Cherokees, the Creeks, the Seminoles, and other large Native American nations were excluded. Unclaimed Land and the Government’s Authority If a Native American had not chosen the land within four years, the government would choose the land for him or her or if a society was using the land for religious or educational purposes, the society was granted the land. If land was not set aside, or if the Native did not live on the land, he or she was entitled to it. The government was an active participant in the Native’s land; if the Natives needed water for land, the Secretary of the Interior had the authority to ration it out.
When an application was approved, a patent was issued, yet the government would hold the land in trust for 25 years, and could extend the number of years it was held in trust. If the Native cancelled the contract, it became null and void. The federal government could also negotiate with tribes to purchase land, but the purchase was not confirmed until it was ratified by Congress. The government was allowed to resell the land to settlers, but the land was not allowed to exceed 160 acres. If the land went more than five years without occupancy, the homestead agreement was null and void.
Motivation and Outcome behind the Act Since the United States government had a history of killing the Native Americans, the Dawes Act was a form of reparations to the Native American nations. The direct motivation was to protect the existing Native American nations from further depletion. The outcome was, it established the first federal reservations for Native Americans. It provided a place for them to be protected and maintain their culture without being disturbed. New Relationship between the Native Americans and the United States
It seems as if the relationship between the United States government and the Native Americans was made even more precarious because of the stipulations and exclusions presented in the Act. For instance, why were some tribes banned altogether? How come a Native could only receive full citizenship if he or she renounced his or her culture? The tribes that were excluded in the Act had to have alienated the government from Native Americans even more. Also, how did the people who were left in a tribe after a member left to seek citizenship feel?
That could not have been a positive outcome for the tribe; many elders could see the United States trying to subvert their culture as a whole by simply offering a “better way of life” to any Native who accepted the offer. I believe the government felt that it was extending the olive branch and the Native Americans felt the government was trying to culturally dilute their ways. Just a simple misunderstanding regarding a why of thinking could have alienated the two groups even more. This probably made the chasm between the government and the Natives even bigger.