Chapter Eight: The Age of Dispossession

Chapter Eight

The Age of Dispossession



After the close of the Indian Wars, federal policy makers began an unprecedented push to transform native people and their cultures.  Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Q. Smith in 1876 doubted that “any high degree of civilization is possible without individual ownership of land.”  The “allotment to them of lands in severalty” and the “extension over them of United States law and the jurisdiction of United States Courts” would protect native peoples on reservations that had become “a refuge to the most lawless and desperate whites in America.” Private property, Interior Secretary Carl Schurz argued in his annual report for 1880, “will inspire the Indians with a feeling of assurance as to the permanency of their ownership of the lands they occupy and cultivate; it will give them a clear and legal standing as landed proprietors in the courts of law; it will secure to them for the first time fixed homes under the protection of the same law under which white men own theirs,” and “it will eventually open to settlement by white men the large tracts of land now belonging to the reservations, but not used by the Indians.” Other parts of the program involved carting American Indian children off to boarding schools, reducing the powers of their tribal governments, and banning native peoples’ expressions of their religious and ceremonial life. And the government did not need to ask the Indians’ permission:  “We are fifty millions, and they are only one-fourth of one million,” Commissioner Hiram Price said.  “The few must yield to the many.”


To Learn More

For the movement towards allotment, see Brian Dippie, The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy, (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), which does a wonderful job of describing why allotment seemed like such a perfect solution to the American nation’s Indian policy.  See also C. Joseph Genetin-Pilewa, Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight Over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); D. S. Otis, The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian Lands, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1973); Francis Paul Prucha, The Great Father, 2 vols., (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984).  Works addressing the experience of specific nations during the Allotment era will be mentioned below.

For the experience of Coast Salish peoples during these years, see Russell Lawrence Barsh, “Puget Sound Indian Demography, 1900-1920: Migration and Economic Integration,” Ethnohistory, 34 (Winter 1996), 65-97; Daniel Boxberger, “Ethnicity and Labor in the Puget Sound Fishing Industry, 1880-1935.” Ethnohistory 33 (Spring 1994), 179-191 and “In and Out of the Labor Force: The Lummi Indians and the Development of the Commercial Salmon Fishery of North Puget Sound,” Ethnohistory, 35 (Spring 1988), 161-190; George M. Guilmet and David Lloyd Whited. “American Indian and Non-Indian Philosophies of Technology and their Differential Impact on the Environment of the Southern Puget Sound,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 26 (no. 1, 2002), 33-66; Alexandra Harmon, Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities around Puget Sound, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Coll Thrush, Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007) and Lissa K. Wadewitz, The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012).  Bruce-subiyay Miller wrote about Spelatch in Willie Smyth and Esme Ryan, Spirit of the First People: Native American Music Traditions of Washington State, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999).

On the Ghost Dance movement, which was a phenomenon that was embraced by the Lakotas but also by the Caddos and Kiowas, see Lani-Henrik Anderson, The Lakota Ghost Dance of 1890, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008); Benjamin R. Kracht, “The Kiowa Ghost Dance, 1894-1916: An Unheralded Revitalization Movement,” Ethnohistory, 29 (Autumn 1992), 452-477; Gregory E. Smoak, Ghost Dances and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth Century, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).  John Swanton provided a first-hand analysis of the Caddo Ghost Dance in Source Material on the History and Ethnology of the Caddo Indians, reprint ed., (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996), as did James Mooney in The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, in the Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1896), in a volume handily available through Google Books.

For the experience of Native Americans during the First World War, see Thomas Britten, American Indians in World War I: At War and at Home, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997) and Susan Applegate Krouse, North American Indians in the Great War, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007).

For the Carlisle Boarding School, see David Wallace Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995) and Michael Coleman, American Indian Children at School, 1850-1930, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993).  The best study of Carlisle remains the unpublished dissertation written by Genevieve Bell, “Telling Stories out of School: Remembering the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879-1918,” (Ph.D diss., Stanford University, 1998).

The history of the Pueblos in the last decades of the nineteenth century and first decades of the twentieth is ably recounted in a number of valuable books and articles.  See Margaret Jacobs, Engendered Encounters: Feminism and Pueblo Culture, 1879-1934, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999); Lawrence C. Kelley, The Assault on Assimilation: John Collier and the Origins of Indian Policy Reform, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1983) and “John Collier and the Pueblo Land Board Act,” New Mexico Historical Review, 58 (no.1, 1983), 5-34. Brian Dippie’s wonderful discussion of the growing attention paid the Pueblos by a variety of American reformers is in Vanishing American. See also Harvey Markowitz, “The Reformer, the Monsignor, and the Pueblos of New Mexico: Catholic Missionary Responses to New Directions in Early Twentieth-Century Indian Policy,” New Mexico Historical Review, 88 (Fall 2013), 414-426 and Tisa Wenger, We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

For the Cherokees’ efforts to reestablish themselves in the Indian Territory, see Andrew Denson, Demanding the Cherokee Nation: Indian Autonomy and American Culture, 1830-1900, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004); William T. Hagan, Taking Indian Lands: The Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, 1889-1893, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003); Tiya Miles, Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and  Freedom, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006); H. Craig Miner, “Cherokee Sovereignty in the Gilded Age,” Chronicles of Oklahoma, 71 (no. 2, 1993), 118-137 and The Corporation and the Indian: Tribal Sovereignty and Industrial Civilization in Indian Territory, 1865-1907, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976); Marcia Larson Odell, Divide and Conquer: Allotment among the Cherokee, (New York: Arno Press, 1979); Julie L. Reed, “Family and Nation: Cherokee Orphan Care, 1835-1903.” American Indian Quarterly 34 (Summer 2010), 312-343; Gregory D. Smithers, The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015) and Rose Stremlau, Sustaining the Cherokee Family: Kinship and Allotment of an Indigenous Nation, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011).

On the Supreme Court’s definition of Indian tribal sovereignty during these years, see Frank Pommersheim, Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) and R. Bruce Duthu, American Indians and the Law (New York: Viking, 2008).  For the Kiowas’ boarding school experience, see Clyde Ellis, To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996).  Religious life and Christian missions at the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation are described in Luke E. Lassiter, Clyde Ellis and Ralph Kotay, The Jesus Road: Kiowas, Christianity And Indian Hymns, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002). Also helpful is the collection of photographs published by Kristina L. Southwell and John R. Lovett, Life at the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency: The Photographs of Annette Ross Hume, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010).  For the Caddos’ adjustments to reservation life, see Cecile Elkins Carter, Caddo Indians: Where We Come From, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995); Jay Miller, “Changing Moons: A History of Caddo Religion.” Plains Anthropologist, 41 (no. 157, 1986), 243-259; and F. Todd Smith, The Caddos, the Wichitas, and the United States, 1846-1901, (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996).

For the Crows during the period leading to the passage of the Crow Act, the best work remains that done by Frederic Hoxie.  See Parading Through History: The Making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805-1935, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) and his coverage of the important Crow leader Robert Yellowtail in This Indian Country: American Indian Political Activists and the Place They Made. (New York: Penguin, 2012).

For the Mohegans, see Daniel Mandell, Tribe, Race, History: Native Americans in Southern New England,1780-1880, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) and Melissa Jayne Fawcett’s Medicine Trail: The Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon, (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000.  For the Powhatans, Helen C. Rountree, Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990).  For a discussion of the sort of racial (and racist) thinking represented by Walter Ashby Plecker, see What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008).

The Senecas’ experience is covered by Laurence M. Hauptman, The Iroquois and the Civil War:  From Battlefield to Reservation, (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1993) and The Iroquois and the New Deal, (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981).  On the Thomas School, Keith R. Burich, The Thomas Indian School and the ‘Irredeemable’ Children of New York, (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2016).

Charles Eastman’s writings have been reprinted, and are valuable sources for understanding the mindset of the so-called “Red Progressives.” See From the Deep Woods to Civilization. reprint ed., (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977) and The Soul of the Indian, reprint ed., (New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1971). For Carlos Montezuma, another important reformer, see Peter Iverson, Carlos Montezuma and the Changing World of American Indians, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982) and David Martinez, “Carlos Montezuma’s Fight against ‘Bureauism’: An Unexpected Pima Hero,” American Indian Quarterly, 37 (Summer 2013), 311-330.  For Arthur Parker and the Society for American Indians generally, see S. Carol Berg, “Arthur C. Parker and the Society of the American Indian, 1911-1916,”       New York History 81 (April 2000), 237-246 and Hazel Herzberg, The Search for American Indian Identity: Modern Pan-Indian Movements, (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1971).

There is a large and useful literature on the Indian New Deal and John Collier’s signal piece of legislation, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. For some of the valuable work on this subject, see Thomas Biolosi, Organizing the Lakota: The Political Economy of the New Deal on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1992); Harry A. Kersey, The Florida Seminoles and the New Deal, (Boca Raton: Florida Atlantic University Press, 1989); Graham D. Taylor, The New Deal and American Indian Tribalism: The Administration Of the Indian Reorganization Act, 1934-1945, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980). Useful overviews are offered by Dippie, in Vanishing American, and Prucha, in The Great Father.



Nelson Miles is a figure of great, but little recognized, significance in the history of American Indian policy. His autobiography is available online. The Journal of the Military Service Institution, in which Miles joined other generals in discussing “Our Indian Question,” is available through Google Books.  Students will find much material for analysis in these short essays.

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Sioux and the end of the Plains Wars in the 1870s, there were wide-ranging discussions of Indian affairs in American public life.  The annual reports of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs are useful reading, especially those written by John Q. Smith and Hiram Price.  Reformers gathered at events like the Lake Mohonk Conference.  Their annual conference proceedings are available online here, or can be found in well-chosen excerpts in Prucha’s Documents of United States Indian Policy.  The epitome of this era of reform came with the passage of the General Allotment Act, or Dawes Act, in 1887.  Students should understand this important piece of legislation thoroughly.

For more information on Bruce Subiyay Miller, check out the Salmon Nation webpage. Your students may have heard something of the Ghost Dance from the famous description of it’s role in precipitating the massacre of Sioux returning to their reservation by the United States Army.  The Digital Public Library of America has assembled a set of primary source documents related to the Wounded Knee Massacre.  The Library of Congress has placed some of its images on line.  Wovoka, the Paiute shaman who preached the Ghost Dance religion, was photographed a number of times over the course of his long life.  The National Anthropological Archives has placed pictures like this, and many others, online. The photography of Zintkala Nuni, or “Little Lost Bird,” a child found by Nebraska Troopers on the Wounded Knee battlefield, may give students much to talk about in terms of colonialism and empire at the end of the nineteenth century.

Students should understand the role played by the break-up of the “Great Sioux Reservation” in the period shortly before Wounded Knee, and as well the role played by Sitting Bull.  And they should understand that the Ghost Dance appealed to communities across the Plains. James Mooney’s The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890 is useful and available online.

The Dawes Act was subject to revision from a very early point. The Indian Land Tenure Foundation maintains a useful overview of the policy of allotment. Historian Claudio Saunt of the University of Georgia has created a valuable “Invasion of America” website that is searchable by Nation, which will allow students to visually comprehend the rapid rate of dispossession between the Revolution and 1887 but not afterwards.  For the critical legislation revising the Dawes Act, see the Curtis Act of 1898, including the following analysis by the Chickasaw Nation.  Cato Sells, the strongest advocate for “forced patenting” and rapid assimilation, laid out his arguments in his “Declaration of Policy,” which appeared in 1916.

Native Americans volunteered in the First World War.  Students interested in learning more should consult this website, and the materials included in the bibliography.

Allotment was only one part of a systematic federal program to destroy the political independence of native peoples.  There were other components as well.  Commissioner of Indian Affairs Henry Teller prohibited the “Free Exercise” of Native American religions. That document is included in Prucha.

There were also the boarding schools.  Richard Henry Pratt took Kiowa captives to Fort Marion in Florida.  Some of the ledger art carried by these students survived.   The online exhibit hosted by Dickinson College, and Philip Earenfight’s edition of A Kiowa’s Odyssey: A Sketchbook from Fort Marion (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007), are both fantastic. The Explore Pennsylvania History website includes context for the historical marker located the cemetery at Carlisle where 186 children who attended the school were buried. “Backstory, With the American History Guys” did a podcast episode called “Indians on the Gridiron: The Legacy of the Carlisle Indian School Football Team.”  Students who are interested can read some of Pratt’s propaganda, in The Indian Industrial School, published in 1908.

Students should realize that debates occurred among native peoples, government officials, and religious reformers over the best way to educate American Indians.  Francis Leupp, who served as commissioner of Indian Affairs under Theodore Roosevelt, was an early critic of Pratt’s model of industrial education, and he was not alone.  Francis Paul Prucha, in his Documents of United States Indian Policy, will allow students to trace the debate in government circles.  Frederick Hoxie’s excellent Talking Back to Civilization includes Native American criticism of government education programs.  For those who do not want excerpts, go to the Report of the Executive Council on the Proceedings of the First Annual Conference of the Society of American Indians, (1912).  The Seneca Arthur Parker wrote an essay in here on “The Philosophy of Indian Education.

The Pueblos play a large role in this chapter.  There is a wealth of material in the National Anthropological Archives touching upon the Pueblos that will work well in the classroom.  Take, for example, a look at the Casey Collection of Lantern Slides of the Southwestern United States, Circa 1920s.  Searching through this archive will yield rich rewards.   The three court cases discussed in this chapter are available: US v. Lucero (1869); US v. Joseph (1876); and US v. Sandoval (1913).  For the “Secret Dance File,” see Jacobs’ Engendered Encounters. For Burke’s Circular 1665 of 1921, click here.

Many reformers were drawn to the American Southwest in the 1920s, where they became committed to protecting the Pueblos from those who coveted their lands.  The major threat to the Pueblos came in the form of the so-called “Bursum Bill.”  The legislation is excerpted in Prucha’s Documents of United States Indian Policy. There were many important reformers, including Mabel Dodge Lujan and Stella Atwood, but the most important of all was John Collier. Collier’s work through the American Indian Defense Association helped defeat the Bursum Bill and replace it with a piece of legislation known as the Pueblo Lands Board Act of 1924.

Some of the criticisms Collier and his associates made informed the 1927 Merriam Commission Report, which is available on Google Books.

For the Cherokees during these years, the Abandoned OK website has a photo spread on the Chilocco Boarding School, abandoned in 2001. This website should be viewed alongside the website maintained by some of the school’s alumni and the Chilocco Indian School Facebook page. For the Cherokee Tobacco case of 1870, click here.   The Cherokee Nation has its own history of Redbird Smith and his movement. The National Anthropological Archives has a photograph of Redbird Smith from 1910.

The Supreme Court issued a number of decisions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries of lasting significance, all tied to federal jurisdiction over Indian reservations.  Students should be familiar with the 1883 case of Ex Parte Crow Dog, which led to Congress passing the Major Crimes Act, available in The Statutes at Large, p. 385. Students will want to know that Crow Dog and the man he killed, Spotted Tail, both were significant figures in their community.  The Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Major Crimes Act in US v. Kagama (1886).

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century many Kiowas began to walk “the Jesus Road,” and follow one or another of the Christian missionaries who took up residence on the “KCA.”  For J. J. Methvin, check out the entry at the Oklahoma History Center; for Isidore Ricklin, see the entry on St. Patrick’s Mission.  For Isabel Crawford, students might find some value in reading excerpts from her 1915 book, Kiowa: The History of a Blanket Indian Mission.

The Kiowas’ Caddo neighbors were also accommodating themselves to Reservation life during these years. Christianity gained adherents, as did Peyotism.  See Swanton, Source Material on the History and Ethnology of the Caddo Indians, for contemporary accounts.  Hoxie, in Parading Through History, includes valuable information on Peyotism as well.

For the Crow Reservation during these years, there are numerous photographs of Plenty Coups, the great leader who oversaw the transition to life on the reservation. Mooney’s piece on the Ghost Dance religion included information about Sword Bearer and his brief rebellion, but interested students must read as well the coverage in Hoxie’s Parading Through History. The National Archives produced a packet of lesson plans that includes a unit on Sword Bearer. Some faculty might find this resource useful. During these years a younger generation of leaders emerged at Crow, led by Robert Yellowtail.  Hoxie’s Talking Back to Civilization includes some of Yellowtail’s speeches. His testimony for the House Subcommittee on Indian Affairs in 1920 will give students a sense of just how forceful an advocate for Crow people Yellowtail became. For Yellowtail’s 1988 obituary from the Washington Post, click here.

It is relatively difficult to find information on the Mohegans for the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  For Frank Speck’s “Glossary of the Mohegan-Pequot Language” which he completed in collaboration with Fidelia Fielding, click here.  For the importance of Gladys Tantaquidgeon in the revitalization of Mohegan culture, click on this page from the website. One reason finding records on the Powhatan Indians is because of the racist crusade of Walter Ashby Plecker.

For the Senecas, students will find pieces of valuable information in the massive Report of the Special Committee to Investigate the Indian Problem of the State of New York, from 1888. The New York State Archives has placed online a large number of photographs from the Thomas Indian School, like this.

Boarding schools like Carlisle, Chilocco, Haskell, and Thomas became the frequent target of criticism from young Native American activists.  The best collection of the writings of these “Red Progressives” is in the excellent reader edited by Frederick Hoxie and published by Bedford, Talking Back to Civilization.  These reformers did not get all that they wanted. They did not always speak to the concerns of reservation communities. But they did help spark changes in the Nation’s Indian policy. The Merriam Commission Report, mentioned above, is an important part of that story.  So was the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the centerpiece of John Collier’s “Indian New Deal.”


Assignments and Study Questions

  1. People, Peoples, Places and Things


Nelson Miles                                                             John Q. Smith

Carl Schurz                                                                Allotment

Indian Rights Association                                      General Allotment Act

Bruce-suibiyay Miller                                              Tulalip Reservation

Canneries                                                                   Indian Shaker Church

John Slocum                                                             Ghost Dance

Pretty Shield                                                             Wovoka

Bigfoot                                                                       Pine Ridge Reservation

Wounded Knee Massacre                                      Sitting Bull (Sioux)

Sitting Bull (Arapaho)                                            James Swanton

James Mooney                                                          Pá-iñgya

A’piaton                                                                      Anadarko Agency

Leasing                                                                       Burke Act

trusteeship                                                                 Francis Leupp

forced patenting                                                       World War I

Cato Sells                                                                   Declaration of Policy

Henry Teller                                                              Thomas Jefferson Morgan

Richard Henry Pratt                                                Fort Marion

Carlisle Indian Industrial School                          Haskell Institute

Boarding Schools                                                      United States v. Lucero (1869)

US v. Joseph (1876)                                                  Blue Lake

Taos Pueblo                                                                US v. Sandoval (1913)

Secret Dance File                                                       Board of Indian Commissioners

Charles Burke                                                             Circular 1665

Mabel Dodge Lujan                                                   John Collier

Bursum Bill                                                                 Stella Atwood

Pueblo Lands Act                                                       All Pueblo Council

Chilocco Boarding School                                        S. H. Mayes

railroads                                                                      Cherokee Tobacco Case

Unassigned Lands                                                     Jerome Commission

Cherokee Outlet                                                         Dawes Commission

Curtis Act                                                                    Cherokee freedmen

Lone Wolf                                                                    Major Crimes Act, 1885

US v. Kagama (1886)                                               Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903)

Rainy Mountain Boarding School                          “Jesus Road”

J. Methvin                                                                   Isidore Ricklin

W. Hicks                                                                      Isabel Crawford

V. Stinchecum                                                             Thomas Wister

Nishkunto (Moon Head)                                           Quanah Parker

Court of Indian Offenses                                           Crow Agency

Sword-Bearer                                                              Robert Yellowtail

Crow Act, 1920                                                            Buffalo Bill Cody

William Terrill Bradby                                              Frank Speck

Pocahontas exception                                                Walter Ashby Plecker

Whipple Report                                                           Thomas Indian School

Charles Eastman                                                         Gertrude Bonin (Zitkala Sa)

Levi General                                                                 Simon Pokagon

Society of American Indians                                     Arthur Parker

Native American Church                                           Meriam Commission Report

Harold Ickes                                                                Indian Reorganization Act, 1934


  1. Discussion Questions and Writing Assignments
  1. In terms of federal Indian policy, this chapter focuses upon the era of allotment (1887-1934).  What was allotment and why did so many Americans feel it offered a solution, at long last, to the American nation’s “Indian Problem”?  How, precisely, would allotment help native peoples?
  2. Describe the various revisions enacted by Congress to the General Allotment Act.  What are the significance of these revisions?
  3. Allotment was one part of a systematic assault on Native American identity.  In what other ways did the government seek to alter, transform, or change Native American ways of living?  What techniques and tactics did missionaries and government agents and reformers use to transform native peoples into something else? And why did American officials feel it was so important to change native peoples? Why couldn’t they be left as they were?  Why not allow native peoples to hold on to their culture?
  4. If your students have read anything at all about American Indian boarding schools, they are likely to have been influenced by Richard Henry Pratt’s well-orchestrated propaganda machine.  That is unfortunate.  What Pratt depicted did not in all ways reflect the realities of the boarding school experience.  The Bibliography, and the “To Learn More” section, list important recent works on Indian boarding schools across the country.  Students should compare the experiences of native peoples in different schools in different places, realize that not all Native American children attended boarding schools, and that the legacy of these schools was more complicated and ambivalent than what your students are likely to have believed previously.
  5. Allotment was immensely destructive for native peoples.  Other policies and programs run by the government inflicted pain and suffering on native peoples.  Still, students should recognize that native peoples survived allotment, and they might look to the experience of the reservations in the Indian Territory.  How did Caddos, Kiowas, and Cherokees confront the unprecedented assault on Indian identity posed by the government programs of his era?
  6. The Senecas in New York State did not go through allotment, but the state certainly tried to break up their reservations and distribute their lands.  The Whipple Report, included on the Bibliography and linked to on the Resources page, despite its considerable biases offers a useful snapshot of Native American life in New York at the end of the nineteenth century.  What did New York State officials see when they looked at the Senecas and other Iroquois peoples?  How well were Senecas getting by during these years?  The special Census Bulletin for 1890 also provides important insights to the shape and nature of Indian life in New York.
  7. The Supreme Court played an important role in the assault on Native American Tribal Sovereignty.  Students should be familiar with the major cases the Court decided, beginning with the Cherokee Tobacco case and concluding with the 1903 decision in Lonewolf v. Hitchcock.  The court’s decisions are well-excerpted in Prucha’s Documents of United States Indian Policy.
  8. The Ghost Dance movement, in many of its forms, runs through this chapter.  Discuss the varieties of the Ghost Dance, and why it might have appealed to native peoples on several reservations on a number of western states.
  9. Indian reformers, the “Red Progressives” of the early twentieth century, wrote on behalf of native peoples and called for changes to the nation’s Indian policy.  A fine selection of their writings appears in Frederick Hoxie’s Talking Back to Civilization.  If these reformers had obtained all that they hoped, what would Native America have looked like?  What did these reformers achieve, if not immediately, in the long-term?  On what issues were they disappointed, and why?



A Discussion Forum for Teaching and Writing Native American History