Dawes most prominent achievement in Congress was the passage in 1887 of the General Allotment Act of 1887
), ch. 119, 24 Stat. 388, 25 U.S.C. § 331 et seq.
, which authorized the President of the United States
to survey Indian tribal land and divide the area into allotments for the individual Indian. It was enacted February 8, 1887, and named for Dawes, its sponsor. The Act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906, by the Burke Act
The Dawes Commission
, set up under an Indian Office appropriation bill in 1893, was created, not to administer the Act, but to attempt to persuade the tribes excluded under the Act to agree to the allotment plan. It was this commission that registered the members of the Five Civilized Tribes
and many Indian names appear on the rolls
. The Curtis Act of 1898
abolished tribal jurisdiction of these tribes' land.[citation needed
On leaving the Senate, in 1893, he became chairman of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes (the Dawes Commission) and served in this capacity for ten years, negotiating with the tribes for the extinction of the communal title to their land and for the dissolution of the tribal governments, with the object of making the tribes a constituent part of the United States. Native Americans lost about 90 million acres (360,000 kmē) of treaty land, or about two-thirds of the 1887 land base over the life of the Dawes Act
. About 90,000 Indians were made landless. The Act forced Native people onto small tracts of land distant from their kin relations. The allotment policy depleted the land base, ending hunting as a means of subsistence. A Calvin Coolidge
Administration study, completed in 1928, found that the Dawes Act
had been used to illegally deprive Native Americans of their land rights.