FYI February 08, 2020

On This Day

1887 – The Dawes Act authorizes the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land and divide it into individual allotments.
The Dawes Act of 1887 (also known as the General Allotment Act or the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887; named after Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts)[1][2] authorized the President of the United States to subdivide Native American tribal landholdings into allotments for Native American heads of families and individuals, transferring traditional systems of land tenure into government-imposed systems of private property by forcing Native Americans to “assume a capitalist and proprietary relationship with property” that did not previously exist.[3] The act also opened up remaining Native land for appropriation by white settlers.[4] Before private property could be dispensed, the government now had to determine “which Indians were eligible” for allotments, which propelled an “official search for a federal definition of Indian-ness.”[5]

Although the act was passed in 1887, the federal government implemented the Dawes Act “on a tribe-by-tribe basis” thereafter. For example, in 1895, Congress passed the Hunter Act, which administered Dawes “among the Southern Ute.”[6] The nominal purpose of the act was to protect “the property of the natives” as well as to compel “their absorption into the American mainstream.”[4] Native peoples who were deemed to be “mixed-blood” were forced to accept U.S. citizenship while others were “detribalized.”[5] Between 1887 and 1934, Native Americans “lost control of about 100 million acres of land” or about “two-thirds of the land base they held in 1887” as a result of the act.[7] The loss of land and the negative cultural effects of Dawes have since prompted scholars to refer to the act as one of the most destructive U.S. policies for Native Americans in history.[5][3]

The “Five Civilized Tribes” (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole) were initially exempt from the Dawes Act, resulting in the creation of the Dawes Commission in 1893 as a delegation which came to define tribal belonging in terms of blood-quantum. However, because there was no method of determining precise bloodlines, commission members often assigned “full-blood status” to Native Americans who were perceived as “poorly-assimilated” or “legally incompetent,” and “mixed-blood status” to Native Americans who “most resembled whites.”[5]

The Curtis Act of 1898 extended the provisions of the Dawes Act to the “Five Civilized Tribes,” required the abolition of their governments, allotment of communal lands to people registered as tribal members, and sale of lands declared surplus, as well as dissolving tribal courts. This law was “an outgrowth of the land rush of 1889, which violated the promise of the United States that the Indian territory would remain Indian land in perpetuity,” completed the obliteration of tribal land titles in Indian Territory, and prepared the land to be admitted to the Union as the state of Oklahoma.[8]

The Dawes Act was amended again in 1906 under the Burke Act, which provided that Native Americans who had been allotted land under the Dawes Act “would not become citizens of the United States until they were deemed legally competent to manage their own affairs” and extended the trust period beyond 25 years, as originally stipulated in the Dawes Act, so that land could now be held in a trust indefinitely by the U.S. government.[9]

During the Great Depression, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration passed the US Indian Reorganization Act (also known as the Wheeler-Howard Law) on June 18, 1934. It prohibited any further land allotment and created a “New Deal” for Native Americans which renewed their rights to reorganize and form self-governments in order to “rebuild an adequate land base.”[10][11]

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Born On This Day

1876 – Paula Modersohn-Becker, German painter (d. 1907)
Paula Modersohn-Becker (8 February 1876 – 20 November 1907) [1] was a German painter and one of the most important representatives of early expressionism. Her brief career was cut short when she died from postpartum embolism at the age of 31. She is recognized as the first known female painter to paint nude self-portraits.[2] She was an important member of the artistic movement of modernism at the start of the twentieth century.

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FYI

Orson Bean (born Dallas Frederick Burrows; July 22, 1928 – February 7, 2020) was an American film, television, and stage actor, and a comedian, writer, and producer. He appeared frequently on televised game shows from the 1960s through the 1980s and was a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth.[1] He was a favorite of Johnny Carson, appearing on The Tonight Show over 200 times.[2] He was a veteran actor of stage, television and cinema, and a game show host.[2][1][3].

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Ideas

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