Sign up for ILTF news

  • submit
  • submit

Land Tenure History

Autumn scene: mountain and lakeKey factors that have shaped U.S. Indian policy and have led to the fractured state of Indian land tenure in Indian Country today include countless federal laws and legislative acts. Perhaps the single most devastating federal policy was the General Allotment Act of 1887, also called the Dawes Act after Senator Henry Dawes, the Act's lead proponent.

History of Allotment

The U.S. federal government began the policy of allotting Indian land as early as 1798. Several treaties with Indian tribes included provisions that stated land would be divided among their individual members. After 1871, however, Congress declared that no further treaties would be made and all future dealings with Indians would be conducted through legislation.

Historical Allotment Legislation

The allotment of American Indian reservations was a policy put into effect by many pieces of legislation. This section provides brief summaries of and links to all general allotment legislation, including the General Allotment Act of 1887, its amendments and other related legislation.

Recent Allotment Legislation

The information in this section revolves around the Indian Land Consolidation Act of 1983 and its amendments. These pieces of legislation are important attempts by the federal government to address the effects of allotment and to prevent the further fractionation of Indian land title.

Tribe/Reservation Allotment Information

While some tribes were allotted under the General Allotment Act of 1887, others were allotted through treaty or tribe-, state-, or reservation-specific legislation. This section lists each tribe-reservation that was allotted, the specific allotting legislation, and the number of allotments made until 1934 when further allotments were prohibited.

Court Cases

Includes brief summaries of important court cases related to allotment and Indian land tenure and includes links to the full text of court decisions after 1893.


A collection of online American Indian treaty resources.

American Indian History Timeline

Shows events, politics, legislation and laws relating to Indian land tenure.