|James Stuart, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and Alice Fletcher|
Previous to the Dawes Act of 1887, tribal lands were owned communally.
The net effect of splitting the tribal land into individually owned allotments was the eventual loss of territory.
Fletcher, who helped write the legislation was convinced that if individuals owned their own land they would assimilate more readily into the white man's way of life.
In reality, it only forced the sale of Native American property to white men.
"The Indian may now become a free man; free from the thraldom of the tribe; free from the domination of the reservation system; free to enter into the body of our citizens. This bill (The Dawes Act of 1887) may therefore be considered as the Magna Carta of the Indians of our country. "
Alice Cunningham Fletcher