Indian land rights

Tribal Affiliations

The injustices that happened long ago are still not fixed and need to be,
because they are visible everyday through the hardships these people face.

Introduction

Ever since Europeans discovered America Native Americans began losing their
land progressively for the next couple of hundred years following the settlement
of the first Europeans. What was once a country that was dominated by the
inhabitance of Native Americans, the United States is no longer the home it once
was. Native Americans during the past centuries have lost an enormous amount of
land and their rights to their property and not only till recently have
repercussions been taken. Native Americans are now fighting for their land that
they lost long ago in addition to water rights that many tribes need.

In this paper we’ll look at the some of the major acts that have affected
Indians and also the problems that some tribes face and how some tribes are
dealing with their land rights.

The General Allotment Act

American Indians had considerably lost much of their land during the 17th and
18th centuries but not till the 19th century were their any real big acts of
congress that made the taking of Indian land legal. Indians before the 19th
century had been living on reservations but not till the mid to later 1800’s
was the government at the height of its power to allocate Indian land to white
settlers and place more Indians on reservations. One of the most influential
acts of Congress that rid Indians of their land is The General Allotment Act
also known as the Dawes Act. The Dawes Act did not affect Pueblo Indian tribes
as it did other tribes. (Andersen 1992:112-115)

The Dawes Act was signed into law on February 8, 1887 and contained five
basic provisions. (1) Indian reservations would be divided and each tribal
member would receive a grant of land consisting of 160 acres for each family
head, a grant of 80 acres for each single person over eighteen, and 40 acres for
each juvenile; (2) Indians would receive fee simple title to their individual
holdings, but the land were to be held in trust by the government for
twenty-five years during which time they could not be alienated; (3) The Indians
would be given four years to make their selections, after which time the
government would make their selection for them; (4) United Stated citizenship
would be conferred upon any Indian who maintained his allotment and adopted the
advantages of civilized life; and (5) un-allotted tracts of land would be
declared a surplus and sold by the government. (Lyden and Legters 1992: 86)



Significance of the Dawes Act

Of the five provisions that are in the Dawes Act the first and the last
provisions are the most important. The first provision divides the land up
between the Indians, which may seem like a good idea but what occurs is that by
limiting how much land each individual can receive the Indians are left with
less land than they originally had. Since there is excess land now that Indians
lost their land the last provision calls for the selling of surplus land. The
amount of surplus land that the Indians lost was about 62,000,000 acres from the
original 136,000,000 they once had. (Lyden and Legters 1992: 88)

This surplus land was then sold to homesteaders, but the fact is that the
homesteaders were given better land than the Indians who were left with land
that was not good for living or farming. (Lyden and Legters 1992: 89)

Due to the Dawes Act the Indians lost much of their land and the land that
they did possess was not very good.

Present Day Claims of Land

During the past 30 years Indians have began claiming “their” land by the
masses. There are many tribes that have taken legal steps in order to acquire
the land that they lost long ago. For instance in congress there are many bills
being sponsored so that Indians may receive some of their land back which they
lost to numerous acts of congress and broken treaties. Some present day bills
that in congress are bills such as Senator Barbara Boxer’s California Indian
Land Transfer Act, which would transfer additional lands to Californian
reservations or

Termination Acts

During the Eisenhower administration policies were enacted to terminate
certain tribes. Terminating was a way for the federal government to assimilate
the Native Americans into the white person’s world. Not only was the purpose
of termination to assimilate Indians but also by terminating certain tribes the
government would not have to allocate money to help fund Native