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Indian Reorganization Act


Indian Reorganization Act in 1934
Indian Reorganization Act in 1934

In 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Act (General Allotment Act of 1887), a plan to eliminate the communal values of native peoples by parceling out communally owned reservation land to individual Native Americans. After the allotments had been made in what had become the state of South Dakota, the hundreds of thousands of acres remaining were then sold to white immigrants, and before long native peoples began to sell their plots. For Native Americans in South Dakota the policy was a disaster. From the 1880s to 1950, Lakota and Yanktonai tribes alone relinquished 6,321,957 hectares (15,621,343 acres) of their remaining 8,796,497 hectares (21,735,846 acres).

The passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934 ended the allotment system, and Native Americans were encouraged to organize governments and to adopt constitutions and bylaws, subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The act further provided for the reacquisition of tribal lands and established preferential hiring of Native Americans within the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Native American tribes were authorized to set up business corporations for economic development, and a credit program was established to back tribal and individual enterprises. Accordingly, tribal members emerged from the 1930s with the hope of survival as a separate group.

Immigration


Immigration created great diversity in the population.

By 1930 a number of immigrant groups created their own communities, including those from Norway, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, British Canada, the Netherlands, England and Wales, Czechoslovakia (Bohemians, Slovakians, and Moravians), Ireland, Austria, Finland, Poland, Switzerland, and French Canada. Hutterites, blacks, Jewish immigrants, and Chinese also moved into the state. Lutheran, Catholic, Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, Methodist, and Baptist Christians were all represented, as well as Judaism and Asian faiths. The most active years of settlement since the Great Dakota Boom were those between 1900 and 1930, when nonindigenous people took over most of the land west of the Missouri River that was not part of Native American reservations.

These groups, added to the peoples on the nine Sioux reservations, made South Dakota as socially diverse and complex as any state in the West. Immigrants to the state invested heavily in land, livestock, and agricultural equipment, and the state government offered generous loans and other support to farmers and ranchers. South Dakotan farmers prospered during World War I (1914-1918), when prices for agricultural products were high, and invested heavily in new farm equipment and land.

Many, however, were unable to pay their debts when prices for farm products declined in the early 1920s. Often they lost ownership of their land but remained on it as tenant farmers. Throughout the 1920s, farmers were forced to increase production to keep ahead of rising living costs. Wheat was planted extensively on marginal cropland and considerable land was overgrazed. "South Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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