What was the significance of the Dawes Severalty Act for tribal life?
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The Dawes Severalty Act was important for tribal life because it helped to reduce the tribes’ ability to live in their traditional ways.
The Dawes Act ended communal ownership of the land and parceled it up into pieces to be owned by individual Native Americans. The major effect of this was to (eventually) drastically reduce the amount of land available to the tribes. The government sold a great deal of the land that it deemed “surplus.” In addition, many Native Americans sold their allotments to non-Indians. This drastically reduced the size of reservations and made it much harder for the Native Americans to live in traditional ways.
The Dawes Act of 1887 was a misguided attempt to reform the government's Native American policy. It's goal was to assimilate Native Americans into the mainstream of American life and eliminate tribal ownership. The significance of this would be the fact that By 1900, Indians had lost 50 percent of the 156 million acres they had held just two decades earlier.
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