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

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Dawes Act was a reflection of the industrialization and appropriation of American in accordance to a materialist subjectivity.  As prospecting and the desire to link the West via Transcontinental Railroads and the economic prosperity that followed, the reality was that this individual appropriation of land and wealth flew into the fact of the communitarian and collectivized ownership of land distribution in the Native American culture.  At the same time, the desired assimilation of Native Americans into "American" culture was sought and in making land individually owned and controlled, many thought that this would result in a more assimilated group of people.

In the end, the Dawes Act ended up doing much damage to breaking the communal bonds of the Native Americans, as land was privately and individually owned.  This flew in the face of the traditional communal ownership.  At the same time, this individual ownership was not sufficient for economic competition with railroads and big business endeavors.  The land that was left over, previously owned by the tribe, was allocated to industrialists and those who wished to build railroads.  In the end, the Dawes Act ended up representing a how the American government saw the Native Americans as a force to be conquered and overcome in the late 19th Century.

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