Assessing Allotment: Industrial Surveys on the Omaha Reservation

Authors: Andrew Allen*, University of Kansas
Topics: Historical Geography
Keywords: Allotment, Omaha, Great Plains
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Riverview I, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Allotment was a major part of the United States policy to assimilate Native peoples in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Under this process, tribal land was divided into individual lots with the hope that the new landowners would adopt Western agricultural practices and create independent, productive members of American society. In the 1920s, the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) conducted a series of industrial surveys to gauge progress of individual allottees by assessing their homes, farming practices, and livestock. Many reports were accompanied by photographs. While skewed by a Western view of allotment, the industrial surveys provide insight into changes on the reservation and OIA priorities in assimilation policy. My study examines approximately 200 industrial surveys conducted on the Omaha Reservation in northeastern Nebraska. Content analysis looks at common themes in the agent’s assessment. In addition, photographs were examined and classified by subject.

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