Railroads and Conflict in the West Questions and Answers

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Explain how the the Dawes Act affected the Native Americans of the West.

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The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 attempted to cut Native Americans' communal ties to their tribal lands in the West and to turn these lands over to individuals who would farm them. The goal was to assimilate Native Americans into white ways of life and white ways of cultivating the land. The land that was not claimed by Native Americans was given to whites for farming.

Though the ostensible purpose of this act was to alleviate Native Americans' poverty, in actuality, it reduced their ability to subsist on their lands. In many cases, whites purchased Native American lands, and Native Americans were left with plots that were too small in size and on which they could not grow sufficient crops. During the New Deal,...

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