Until the late nineteenth century, tribal nations across the United States owned their reservation lands as a community: families could settle, plant their crops, and own any improvements they built, but the land itself belonged to the entire nation for future generations’ use. The 1887 passage of the Dawes Act upended this system of communal land ownership and, in doing so, struck a historic blow at Native Americans’ political rights, economic sufficiency, and cultural heritage.
Written by John Bickers. Narration by Dr. Nicholas B. Breyfogle. Video production by Cody Patton, Laura Seeger, and Dr. Nicholas B. Breyfogle.