Unearthing Indian Land offers a comprehensive examination of the consequences of more than a century of questionable public policies. In this book, Kristin Ruppel considers the complicated
issues surrounding American Indian land ownership in the United States.
Thoughtful description of problems of legacies with apt, informative, and useful explanatory notes. Her style is pleasant and minimizes specialized jargon.
—American Indian Quarterly
Under the General Allotment Act of 1887, also known as the Dawes Act, individual Indians were issued title to land
allotments while so-called "surplus" Indian lands were opened to non-Indian settlement. During the forty-seven years that the act remained in effect, American Indians lost an estimated 90 million
acres of land—about two-thirds of the land they had held in 1887. Worse, the loss of control over the land left to them has remained an ongoing and insidious result.
Land traces the complex legacies of allotment, including numerous instructive examples of a policy gone wrong. Aside from the initial catastrophic land loss, the fractionated land ownership that
resulted from the act's provisions has disrupted native families and their descendants for more than a century. With each new generation, the owners of tribal lands grow in number and therefore own
ever smaller interests in parcels of land. It is not uncommon now to find reservation allotments co-owned by hundreds of individuals. Coupled with the federal government's troubled trusteeship of
Indian assets, this means that Indian landowners have very little control over their own lands.
Illuminated by interviews with Native American landholders, this book is essential reading
for anyone who is interested in what happened as a result of the federal government's quasi-privatization of native lands.