Legal Status and Treatment of Native Americans

Over the last two centuries, several laws have impacted and at times dramatically changed the legal status and treatment of Native Americans in the United States. The following are the most significant:

1. The US Supreme Court, in Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia (1831) declared the Indains a “dependent domestic nation”, allowing a policy of separatism through the Indain reservation system
2. The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 permitted Native Americans to obtain homesteads off of the reservation and obtain US citizenship. By doing so the Native American would lose tribal status. This move promised a rapid opening of valuable tribal reservation lands to white development
3. In 1885 the criminal jurisdication of the federal territorial courts reached the reservation lands, but in non-criminal lands many reservation peoples were considered a people without law
4. The Curtis Act of 1898 ended the tribal courts and brought the reservations under the full jurisdiction of the federal judicial system.

Discuss how all four of these laws stated above promote inequality. Then specifically identify two additional laws related to Native Americans and discuss whether those laws are used by society to promote the inequality.


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