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The General Allotment Act
Congress passed the General Allotment Act, which divided Native American reservation land into parcels, in 1887. The act was intended to weaken the tribal structure by encouraging the development of individually-owned Native American farms, and to protect Native American ownership of reservation land. The division of the land, however, opened up large areas for white settlement. In 1898, the Curtis Act extended all provisions of the General Allotment Act to the Indian Territory, making the land of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes eligible for allotment. Before the General Allotment Act was repealed in 1934, the US government, in addition to land swindlers, had divested Native Americans of about 90 million acres, or close to two-thirds of their land.