Henry Dawes Severalty Act: The Fall Of The Plains Indians

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In the 1500's Native Americans numbered anywhere between 2-10 million across the continent of North America. They were a semi-nomadic people, moving where food and the weather dictated, and had a proud and strong culture. However all that changed after the introduction of the white man to North America. There had always been sporadic violence among Native Americans and whites, but it began to escalate as the population of whites in North America escaladed. Rising population in the east demanded American expansion in the west and only Native Americans stood in the way of the whites man greed for land. The Plains Indians resisted but despite their warrior spirit and strong culture the Plains Indians were defeated by whites due to forced …show more content…
In 1887 a Massachusetts Senator named Henry Dawes purposed an act that he at the time thought would cause the Plains Indians to become more civilized, but his good intentions only added to the demise of the Plains Indians. Henry Dawes Act, called the "Dawes Severalty Act" would divide the Plains Indians reservations, that was at the time being communally shared, into individual plots of land. Each plot of land would be owned by an individual in hopes that it would instill a sense of self responsibility and independence. In the eyes of someone with good intentions the Dawes Act was a failure, however in the eyes of white greedy land owners, it was just another nail in the coffin for the Plains Indians. Once the land was officially owned by the Plains Indians they were entitled to sell it. With a good portions of buffalo killed off and the inability to grow crops, the Indians needed to sell off land to support themselves and their family. Many wealthy and greedy white men were after the land on the reservation to utilize it for railroad property and gold prospecting and about forty five years after the Dawes Severalty Act was put into place, approximately 90 million of the 138 million acres of land that was previously owned by the Plains Indians had been lost or sold off to white men ("On the

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