A fortune is near at hand: White land buyers on the Nemaha Half-Breed Tract, 1857-1860

Abstract

Throughout the 19th century, the federal government promoted the assimilation of Native Americans as individuals within white society. Allotment of land in severalty, or the granting of land to individual Indians, was one means to achieve assimilation because it was believed that Indians would adopt the lifestyle of white farmers once they received land. Though the attempt generally failed, the government remailed undeterred in its efforts to achieve that end. In 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Severalty Act which made allotment in severalty the standard policy on most reservations throughout the United States. One clear failure of allotment in severalty occurred on the Nemaha Half-Breed Tract, a reservation established in Nebraska to benefit the mixed-bloods of several Great Plains tribes. Though Congress created the reservation by treaty in 11830, it did not begin to allot the land until 1857. Once the land became available to the mixed-bloods, most of them sold their allotments to whites. This thesis describes the major purchasers of mixed-blood land on the Half-Breed Tract, including James W. Denver, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs; Stephen F. Nuckolls, the founder of Nebraska City; a group of German immigrants who sought to establish a socialistic society at their settlement called Arago; and several prominent local land speculators

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