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Removal of Restrictions

For the Five Tribes

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About this database

This index was composed from the applications made by individuals to remove restrictions from their allotted lands found in the Indian Archives collection. The collection also includes orders for restrictions to be removed. The documents include first and last name, roll number (in most cases), tribal affiliation, and in a few cases blood quantum is listed. The index includes more than 11,000 names. These materials are part of the Union Agency Records and they pertain to the Five Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw (including Mississippi Choctaw), Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole.

Most of the information contained in the document has been included in this database. Below are examples of the application and order documents.

About the removal of restrictions

During the land allotment period in Indian Territory, Congress made the decision to restrict allotments of American Indians who enrolled with one-half or more blood quantum. This was because Congress believed that these tribal members had certain levels of “incompetency” inherent in Indian blood. Members of Congress believed that the restricted tribal members did not fully understand what it meant to own land as a private owner, since their cultural practice prior to allotment was to share the land with other tribal members. Congress also believed that tribal members with one-half or more blood quantum could easily become persuaded by white citizens to alienate (or give up) their own property, which might mean they would lose their allotment in its entirety.

According to Section 19 of the Act of Apr. 26, 1906, the decision made by Congress states: “That no full blood Indian…shall have power to alienate, sell, dispose of, or encumber in any manner any of the lands allotted to him for a period of 25 years…”  This meant that restricted tribal members were not in control of their own property and had a guardian assigned to them who would make decisions about the allotment.

There were, however, two ways restrictions could be removed from the restricted tribal member and the allotment:

  1. The first instance was outlined in Section 9 of the Act of Apr. 26, 1906, that explains in the instance an allotment recipient died, the restriction would essentially “die” with the original allottee, allowing the heir or heirs to gain control of their share of the allotted land.
  2. The second provided the opportunity for restricted tribal members to make an application to a United States Indian agent for the removal of their restrictions. The field Indian agent would then investigate the applicants and forward any reports and recommendations to the Department of the Interior, which would be reviewed by the secretary of the Interior. The secretary had the final say as to whether restrictions should be removed or not. Once restrictions were removed, they could not be reimposed.

Access these records

Visit the OHS Research Center to view removal of restriction applications from the Dawes Commission Records collection.

Order copies

The Research Center offers a $15 express service for orders from this database. To order copies of a listing by mail, use the printable order form and include the information provided in the index. To order by phone call 405-522-5225.