A Solution to the “Indian Problem” 1887

By the 1880s, Indian reservations were interfering with western expansion, and many Americans felt that the only solution to the “Indian Problem” was assimilation of Native Americans into Euro-American society. The Government set a dramatic new policy under the Dawes Act dissolving tribal ownership of reservations into individual allotments for Native American ownership.

The policy was designed to force assimilation by separating Native Americans from their tribal affiliations and turning them into farmers, and eventually American citizens. Many Native Americans resisted farming because it conflicted with their traditional way of life. Most Native Americans also did not become citizens through the Dawes Act. However, the policy was immensely successful at opening up the West—divesting tribes of two-thirds of all remaining reservation lands.