chapter  3
The Indian Reorganization Act, Termination, and Rehabilitation
ByErin Hogan Fouberg
Pages 48

Across allotted reservations, one outcome of the Dawes Act was the exact opposite of what the federal government intended. The federal government hoped the allotment policy would encourage individual American Indians to take up farming, but the allotment policy generally discouraged American Indians from farming their own land. In fact, by 1920, leasing lands, selling lands, and working seasonally as farm labor were the primary sources of income on all nine of the reservations in South Dakota. Unfortunately, none of these sources produced very high incomes for tribal members. The per capita income of the nine reservations in South Dakota was only $166 in 1926. 1 Even those who leased large allotments realized little income. John Loftman, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, testified in 1929 that “some Indians only get $8 or $10 a year for leasing 160 acres” 2 By the end of the 1920s, most northern Plains Indians had completely abandoned their efforts to farm. By 1929, only twenty-six Indians were continuing to farm on the Lake Traverse Reservation. 3