The many congressional acts and plans for the administration of Indian affairs in the West often resulted in confusion and misapplication. Only rarely were the ideals of those who sincerely wished to help American Indians realized. This book, first printed as a part of the hearings before the House of Representatives Committee on Indian Affairs in 1934, is a detailed and fully documented account of the Dawes Act of 1887 and its consequences up to 1900. D. S. Otis's investigation of the motives of the reformers who supported the Dawes Act indicates that it failed to fulfill many of the hopes of its sponsors.
The reasons for the act's failure were complex but predictable. Many Indians were not culturally prepared for severalty. Provisions in the act for leasing or selling their land enabled many to circumvent the responsibilities of private ownership, which reformers and bureaucrats alike had thought would provide a “civilizing” influence.
The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian Land is the only full-scale study of the Dawes Act and its impact upon American Indian society and culture. With the addition of an introduction, revised footnotes, and an index by Francis Paul Prucha, S. J., it is essential to any understanding of the present circumstances and problems of American Indians today.