Effects of Allotment on South Dakota Reservations

Ty Paulson, South Dakota State University


The history of allotment is long and complex. Throughout many decades of work, the United States government attempted to assimilate Native Americans throughout the country by using the allotment policy. By attempting to do so, the government strained relationships even further. This paper will discuss many of the ways the United States government failed to implement an effective policy to assimilate Native Americans. The allotment policy failed to assimilate Native Americans on South Dakota reservations. Many historians have written widely on the subject and offer many perspectives on the history between the United States government and Native Americans. Historian Jill St. Germain is one particular author who focused on these relationships in her book Broken Treaties: United States and Canadian with the Lakota and the Plain Cree, 1868-1885. This book discusses both the American and Canadian relations with the plains Indians during the late 19th century. She puts people at the center of the narrative and challenges established historical interpretations of the treaty process. Another historian that has written on the subject is Francis Paul Prucha in his book The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. In this book, Prucha gives a detailed history of American Indian Policy dating back to the Revolutionary War. Prucha also focuses on how the United States government has used their power over Native Americans to put them in positions that would be in the best interests of the U.S. government rather that the best interests of the Native Americans. The biggest contribution of the books is probably how Prucha is able to show how evangelical Protestantism and militant Americanism successively influenced American Indian Policy throughout the nineteenth century.