Concept Highlighting of the Allotment Act
The Dawes Act is not a stand-alone document in the Civilizing efforts of both the federal government and philanthropic societies/organizations like the ‘Friends of the Indian’ in the late nineteenth century. As discussed in the Context, the whole idea of bestowing Civilization on Indians in the West had been part of federal policy for quite some time before the implementation of the Dawes Act. The General Allotment Act of 1887, therefore, could actually be considered the culmination of the Civilization efforts of the nineteenth century as a whole since it encompassed all four major themes of Civilization.
Understanding Civilization within the actual content of the Dawes Act requires multiple readings of the text itself. To better access these thematic understandings, important sections of the Dawes Act have been highlighted for each Civilization theme. There is often significant cross-over between themes. Included with each analysis of Civilizing theme are corresponding photographs showing the impact (or lack thereof) on Montana reservations.
Additional thematic interpretations of the Dawes Act text have been included to demonstrate that the rhetoric of Civilization was often undermined the non-Indian self-interest. The true beneficiaries of the Dawes Act were the homesteaders who gained access to resources on reservation land as a result of ‘surplus.’ Of course, this was all enacted under the guise of paternalism and federal obligation.
Concept Highlighting by Theme: