Unearthing Indian Land offers a comprehensive examination of the consequences of more than a century of questionable public policies. In this book, Kristin Ruppel considers the complicated issues surrounding American Indian land ownership in the United States.
Under the General Allotment Act of 1887, also known as the Dawes Act,individual Indians were
issued title to land allotments while so-called "surplus" Indian lands were opened to non-Indian settlement. During the forty-seven years that the act remained in effect, American
Indians lost an estimated 90 million acres of land--about two-thirds of the land they had held in 1887. Worse, the loss of control over the land left to them has remained an ongoing and
Unearthing Indian Land traces the complex legacies of allotment, including numerous instructive examples of a policy gone wrong. Aside from the initial
catastrophic land loss, the fractionated land ownership that resulted from the act's provisions has disrupted native families and their descendants for more than a century. With each
new generation, the owners of tribal lands grow in number and therefore own ever smaller interests in parcels of land. It is not uncommon now to find reservation allotments co-owned by
hundreds of individuals. Coupled with the federal government's troubled trusteeship of Indian assets,this means that Indian landowners have very little control over their own
Illuminated by interviews with Native American landholders, this book is essential reading for anyone who is interested in what happened as a result of the federal
government's quasi-privatization of native lands.
Kristin T. Ruppel is Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at Montana StateUniversity.