News | Published:

American Indian Land-Tenure

Nature volume 134, pages 246247 (18 August 1934) | Download Citation



A MOVEMENT has been initiated in the United States for the reform of the terms of land-tenure among the Indians. Under the law of 1887, lands were allotted to the Indians on individual tenure, a system of which they had had no experience under tribal institutions. No sooner had allotment been made than land dealers began to acquire holdings from the Indians, in many instances in exchange for a few bottles of whisky or other articles of little or no value. It is estimated that in less than fifty years the Indians have lost two thirds of their lands, and whole tribes have been reduced to pauperism. A conference has been summoned, it is announced by Science Service, Washington, to discuss this situation, as well as other problems affecting the Indians. It will be attended by representatives of the Indian Rights Association, the National Association on Indian Affairs and many other bodies interested in the welfare of the Indian. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Mr. John Collier, will also attend. Special attention will be given to drafting proposals for the amendment of the land laws. Among the reforms it is intended to propose is the reintroduction of the system of tribal tenure. It is understood that this proposal has the approval of the Indian Office. Suggestions are also to be considered for the establishment of a system of credit for the Indians in order to enable them to equip and stock their farms, as they are not otherwise in a position to work any land which may be assigned to them. It is certainly desirable that something should be done to establish on an economic basis the half-detribalised Indians who at present are largely parasitic on the fringes of white communities. The passing of a revised land-law which would restore the Indian to the land without the power of alienation would probably prove a substantial advance in that direction.

About this article

Publication history





    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing