What Was the Impact of the Assimilation Policy for Native Americans in the Late 1800s?
Assimilation through the Dawes Act for Native Americans effectively destroyed native American culture. The Dawes Act also made indigenous individuals American citizens. The ability of Native Americans to make and enact their own laws was eliminated.
Prior to the Dawes Act, Native American tribes were separate nations existing outside of the rule of the U.S. government. Manifest destiny and the push movement created a demand for more and more land. Unfortunately, much of the land was occupied by Native Americans. Because they were not citizens, they could not be forced to move in favor of pioneers. The government’s solution to this was to draft a document, the Dawes Act, that declared all Native Americans living on U.S. soil citizens. The government then reserved large plots of land for tribes and began to round them up and forcibly move them to the reserved patches of land. These patches are still known as reservations. Native American children were also given the opportunity to attend schools, often far from home, so that they could be transitioned into white American culture by the time they were adults. As a result native languages and traditions began dying out. Although the Dawes Act was hotly debated, at the time it was adopted, it was viewed as optimal to genocide.