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Dawes Act Significance

What was the significance of the Dawes Severalty Act for tribal life?

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The Dawes Severalty act, in principal, seemed like a law that would benefit the American Indians. It was a stark departure in American policy from the past when lands were forcefully removed or taken through unfair treaties. The law was an attempt to have the Indians assimilate to the American principle of private enterprise and ownership. To further this effort, the government partitioned the communal lands of the Native Americans into privately owned parcels. All of the Indians that registered would be granted significant parcels of land to develop for farming.

The problem with the law was that Indians were not versed in the development of commercial agriculture and really were not interested in private ownership of land and resources. For centuries, Indians existed by sharing and working their lands together. For this reason, the introduction of private ownership was not a success for Indians. Native tribes also lost hundreds of thousands of...

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