Benchmarks of US policy toward Indians

1787 Northwest Ordinance. Provided that, as whites settled settlement beyond the Alleghenies, Indian ``land and property shall never be taken from them without their consent.'' 1830

Indian Removal Act. To ``protect'' tribes from encroachment of settlers, about 100,000 Indians were forcibly resettled from Eastern homelands and to areas west of the Mississippi. 1886

Indian Peace Commission. US negotiated the last of 370 treaties under which most tribes were confined to areas (``reservations'') reserved for their use. In practice, Indians became wards of federal government. 1887

General Allotment Act. Dispensed tribal lands to individual Indians in hopes of making them into farmers who would assimilate with the rest of US society. A disaster for tribes, whose landholdings dwindled from 136 million acres in 1887 to less than 50 million acres by 1934. 1934

Indian Reorganization Act. Ended allotment period. Tribes were urged to adopt democratic governments, but Bureau of Indian Affairs continued to control activities on most reservations. 1953

Termination policy. A series of congressional acts began systematic withdrawal of federal recognition of Indian tribes. Some lost their reservations and resources. Indians were offered financial incentives to join mainstream America in the cities. 1970

Indian self-determination policy. Affirmed validity of tribal society, rejected termination, and began to give tribes control over decisions affecting their reservations. In 1975 Congress passed Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act.

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