Historical and Cultural Context

In the late 1860s, President Ulysses Grant was first of many to find a solution to the US “Indian Problem” via assimilation and landholding. This Peace Policy called for the relocation of Indians from their ancestral homes to allocated pieces of land dictated by the American Government. Christian men were appointed as Indian Agents hoping that they would “assimilate Indians” by instilling moral and converting them to Christianity and the Western way of life. These agents were very corrupt and disregarded the American Indian way of life all in the name of “civilizing” people. Later this policy was replaced by the Dawes Act or the General Allotment Act in 1887
This act divided the previous reservation lands into 160 acres for each tribe and then smaller portions from that were given to individual Native Americans to cultivate and in exchange would receive full “rights” as US citizens. Having the protection of citizenship was a strong motivator for many and many tribes were disbanded as result. Those who took the allotment offer were isolated from their tribal ways and assimilating them into the white society became much easier. Also their 
mobility were greatly limited, because the Act required them to remain on their lands for at least twenty-five years. Many tribes lost millions of acres of land due to this allotment policy because the remaining reservation lands from the 160 acres were sold to European settlers that wanted to settle the West. The funds from this sale was said to be used for the establishment of Indian schools all around the country in order to help them assimilate. These new “available” lands attracted more white settlers and made coast-to-coast railroads possible to be built. Certain territories, such as Oklahoma, were declared by the government to be available for settlement regardless of the Native American tribes that were already on it. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs or the BIA, a branch of the Federal Government were the federal regulators and legislators of life on the reservation. Agents from the BIA were inserted into reservations to be in control of assimilation and many other aspects of life such as the schools, distributing supplies from the government, dispensing justice, and much more. All of this power and control made them basically replace the tribal governmental system and gave them a lot of power to exploit on the Native Americans. The BIA often withheld much needed resources, in order to force the tribes to do what they wanted. 

The main policies towards the Native Americans from the late 1800s to the early 1900s can be summarized as attempting to undermine the power of tribal leaders, the tribal system of law and to completely assimilate them into the white society. Those who did not had no land, no resources, no protection and no support systems.

“It has become the settled policy of the Government to break up reservations, destroy tribal relations, settle Indians upon their own homesteads, incorporate them into the national life, and deal with them not as nations or tribes or bands, but as individual citizens”

Commissioner of Indian Affairs Thomas J. Morgan 1890

Kiowa Nation was one of the tribes surrounding Oklahoma area that was heavily effected by the land negotiations. In 1867, a year before Delos Lone Wolf was born, the Kiowas signed the Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek which agreed that they would enter a reservation located in Oklahoma. After few years of bison extinction and human losses due to war, the Kiowas were very much dependent on the US government for subsidies. The Kiowas went from great hunters and warriors to having much of their landholdings sold off to white settlers and being dependent on outside assistance. Because these histories were so close to Delos Lone Wolf’s time, he most likely grew up in a reservation and probably would have felt all the negative sentiments towards his limited lifestyle.

This entry was posted in Delos Lone Wolf, The Conflicted and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *