An Indigenous Student Argues for Assimilation (1902)
In 1887, Congress enacted the Dawes Act, referred to as the Dawes Severalty Act or General Allotment Act. It empowered the federal government to redistribute tribal lands: rather than being communally owned by tribes, land would be owned and farmed by individual families. Land that was not allotted to Indigenous families could be sold by the government to non-Native settlers. Native Americans who enrolled with the Office of Indian Affairs (now the Bureau of Indian Affairs) would be eligible for a land allotment and allowed to become US citizens. The Dawes Act led to a massive loss of land and wealth from tribes. More than 90 million acres of tribal land were sold to non-native settlers, at a fraction of its value. Although most Native Americans opposed the government’s actions, some considered assimilation beneficial. In this excerpt of a 1902 essay from the Chippeway Herald, an Indigenous pupil of the White Earth Boarding School in Minnesota encouraged Native people to assimilate for the good of their communities and the United States.
“The Indian must be assimilated or else he will become very much in the road, a very dangerous political and social factor, a hindrance to progress and reproach to civilization. His children should go to the public schools; he should be subject to law and taxes, have the protection of the law and the benefit of tax expenditure.”
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | “An Indigenous Student Argues for Assimilation (1902) ,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 10, 2023, https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/3432.