Through the Dawes Act, tribally owned land decreased from 138 million acres in 1887 to 48 million acres in 1934. This amount of land lost is comparable to the size of the state of Minnesota. The Dawes Act gave the president of the United States “the right to dissolve any reservation created for Indian use … if it is his opinion that it would be advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes.” Native families were allocated small plots of land—under the stipulation that they pay a land tax. Any indigenous people allocated land who relinquished tribal life were “gifted” with United States citizenship. “Surplus” land left after allocation was sold by the United States to settlers.
…Indians of All Tribes occupied the island after Alcatraz Federal Prison shut down operations on the island, citing the 1886 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which guaranteed the return of out-of-use federal lands to Native peoples. After a period of removals, the occupation gained traction and 79 Native activists held the space down, despite a Coast Guard brigade. The Alcatraz Proclamation, a sharp and bitingly pointed document, issued a direct statement of intent to the U.S. government: that since the infrastructure of government-created reservations became increasingly unstable and unlivable, it was only the natural course of things for indigenous people to “discover” new lands to populate.