The Day by Day History of the
Congress Granted Citizenship to All American Indians Born in
June 2, 1924
American Indians have long struggled to
retain their culture. Until 1924, American Indians were not
citizens of the United States. Many American Indians had, and
still have, separate nations within the U.S. on designated
reservation land. But on June 2, 1924, Congress granted
citizenship to all American Indians born in the U.S. Yet even
after the Indian Citizenship Act, some American Indians weren't
allowed to vote because the right to vote was governed by state
law. Until 1957, some states barred American Indians from
At the time of the Indian Citizenship Act, an
act called the Dawes Severalty Act shaped U.S. Indian policy.
Since 1887, the government had encouraged American Indians to
become more like mainstream America. Hoping to turn Indians into
farmers, the federal government gave out tribal lands to
individuals in 160-acre parcels. Unclaimed or "surplus" land was
sold, and the money was used to establish Indian schools. In
them, American Indian children learned reading, writing, and
social habits of mainstream America. By 1932, the sale of
unclaimed land and allotted land resulted in the loss of
two-thirds of the 138 million acres American Indians had held
prior to the Act.
A 1928 study known as the Meriam Report
assessed the problems of American Indians. The report revealed
to the government that its policies had oppressed American
Indians and destroyed their culture and society. The people
suffered from poverty, exploitation and discrimination. This
study spurred the passage of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act.
This Act returned some of the surplus land to American Indians
and urged tribes to engage in active self-government. The U.S.
government invested in the development of health care, education
and community structure. Quality of life on Indian lands
improved. Today some American Indians run successful businesses,
while others still live in poverty.