SAT Subject US History Practice Question 805: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 805

66. The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 was passed by Congress in response to pressure from

A. large mining interests, which wanted to exploit Native American reservation lands.
B. Native Americans, who thought the plan for gradual assimilation offered their best hope for survival.
C. the U.S. military, which was seeking revenge for "Custer's Last Stand."
D. reform-minded whites trying to solve the "Indian problem" by promoting Native Americans's assimilation.
E. buffalo hunters, who wanted unlimited access to buffalo herds.

Correct Answer: D


The Dawes Act encouraged Native American assimilation into white culture. Ironically, it was liberal sympathizers, including Helen Hunt Jackson, author of A Century of Dishonor, who pushed for the measure, thinking that by accepting white ways, Native Americans would break the cycle of poverty and dependence. It is seen today as a condescending, insensitive measure that ignored Native American traditions and rights. Miners (A), the military (C), and the buffalo hunters (E) did not push a measure that, at the time, was seen as a forward step for Native Americans. Native Americans themselves (B), did not, in general, support a measure that showed so little respect for traditional ways.

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