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Indian Reorganization Act, or Howard-Wheeler Act, June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984)

Relevant Provisions: 
Trust periods; surplus land; sale of allotments; alienation; public domain allotments; devise and descent; tax exemption; tribal governments

Section 1: Prohibits further allotment of Indian lands on or after June 18, 1934.

Section 2: Extends, until otherwise directed by Congress, existing periods of trust and restrictions on alienation placed on Indian lands.

Section 3: Authorizes the secretary of the interior to restore to tribal ownership the remaining surplus lands of any Indian reservation opened to sale or other disposal provided that the rights or claims of any persons to any lands such on the date of the withdrawal shall not be affected. Contains several provisos pertaining to the Papago Reservation.

Section 4: Prohibits transfers of restricted Indian land, individually-owned or otherwise, except to an Indian tribe. This section also restricts an Indian individual’s testamentary disposition of restricted Indian land to the heirs of the devisee, to members of the tribe having jurisdiction over the land, or to the tribe itself.

Section 5: Authorizes the acquisition of lands, water rights, surface rights, and interests by the U.S. government for Indians and declares that purchased lands shall be tax exempt.

Section 8: Leaves scattered Indian homesteads on the public domain out of the scope of this act.

Section 13: States that:

The provisions of this Act shall not apply to any of the Territories, colonies, or insular possessions of the United States, except that sections 9, 10, 11, 12, and 16, shall apply to the Territory of Alaska: Provided, That Sections 2, 4, 7, 16, 17, and 18 of this Act shall not apply to the following-named Indian tribes, the members of such Indian tribes, together with members of other tribes affiliated with such named tribes located in the State of Oklahoma, as follows Cheyenne, Arapaho, Apache, Comanche, Kiowa, Caddo, Delaware, Wichita, Osage, Kaw, Otoe, Tonkawa, Pawnee, Ponca, Shawnee, Ottawa, Quapaw, Seneca, Wyandotte, Iowa, Sac and Fox, Kickapoo, Pottawatomi, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. Section 4 of this Act shall not apply to the Indians of the Klamath Reservation in Oregon.

Section 15:  Relates to the Sioux Nation.

Section 18:  Provides that the act as a whole should not apply to any reservation wherein a majority of tribal members voted against its application.

Click here for full text in Charles J. Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, produced by Oklahoma State University Library

Additional resources:

Indian Reorganization Act (current amended version as codified in Title 25)

Indian Reorganization Act  (showing all amendatory changes)