The Chickasaw and Choctaw, two of the Five Civilized Tribes, turn into the first ever to consent to abolish tribal government and communal ownership of land. The other tribes soon followed, finally throwing open most of Indian Territory to white settlement.
Representatives of the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes have been negotiating the continuing future of their women and men with the Dawes Commission since 1893. President Grover Cleveland designed the Dawes Commission to grasp the objectives of the 1887 Dawes Severalty Act. Backers of the Dawes Severalty Act believed Indians will be better in a position to integrate into mainstream society should they abandoned tribal governments and communal ownership of land. Instead, every single male Indian received a parcel to possess privately. Any tribal land that remained-which more often than not was a considerable amount-would most probably to settlement by Anglo-Americans.
Most Native American tribes were forced to follow the Dawes Severalty Act irrespective of their wishes. However, a treaty from 1830 promised the Five Civilized Tribes surviving in Oklahoma Indian Territory their land for “as long as the grass grows and water runs,” and the Dawes Act didn’t connect with them. Instead, the Dawes Commission was formed to convince them to look at its principles voluntarily.
At once, Congress also threatened to create it harder for the Five Civilized Tribes to sustain their traditional techniques of life. The Curtis Act, for example, invalidated the authority of most tribal courts. Recognizing they had tiny hope of preserving their old methods, in 1897, the Choctaws and Chickasaws became the 1st to agree voluntarily to abandon tribal government and land ownership. By 1902, another three tribes-the Cherokees, Seminoles, and Creeks-had followed suit.
Despite the sincere humanitarian targets of the Dawes Act and Commission, the best effect was to deprive Indians of all of these landholdings. Fraud was rampant, plus some Indians either didn’t know they necessary to make an application for their private acreage or refused to take action in protest. From 1887 to 1934, Indian landholdings declined from 138 million to 47 million acres. Since the Dawes Act was rescinded in 1934, nonetheless, tribal ownership and government have once turn into legal.