Term: General Allotment Act (1887)
Definition: federal legislation that divided tribal lands previously held in common by the tribe into small parcels for individuals, to encourage self-sufficient farming by Indians; under the law, some parcels could be sold to whites and Indian owners could be foreclosed upon if they failed to pay taxes or debts; in subsequent decades whites acquired almost half of all Indian lands in the U.S., as a result.
[Source: 24 Stat. 388; Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2001).]