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The Struggle for Self-Determination
Digital History ID 720

Author:   Theodore Roosevelt
Date:1901

Annotation: The President defends the Dawes Act.


Document: In my judgment the time has arrived when we should definitely make up our minds to recognize the Indian as an individual and not as a member of a tribe. The General Allotment Act is a mighty pulverizing engine to break up the tribal mass.... Under its provisions some sixty thousand Indians have already become citizens of the United States. We should now break up the tribal funds, doing for them what allotment does for the tribal lands; that is, they should be divided into individual holdings.... A stop should be put upon the indiscriminate permission to Indians to lease their allotments. The effort should be steadily to make the Indian work like any other man on his own ground....

In the schools the education should be elementary and largely industrial. The need of higher education among the Indians is very, very limited.... The ration system, which is merely the corral and the reservation system, is highly detrimental to the Indians. It promotes beggary, perpetuates pauperism, and stifles industry. It is an effectual barrier to progress.... The Indian should be treated as an individual--like the white man.

Source: First Annual Message, December 3, 1901.

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