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Ethnologist Alice C. Fletcher helped write the Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887 and became one of the first women to serve as a federal Indian agent. A commanding presence, she spent four summers with the Nez Perce, completing close to 2,000 allotments. Charged with supervising the daunting task of resurveying, verifying, and assigning nearly 757,000 acres, Fletcher also had to preserve land for transportation routes and restrain white settlers claiming prime properties. She sought to "give the best lands to the best Indians," but faced numerous other challenges, including the terrain, complex ancestries, and her own misperceptions about native life. Fletcher wrote daily--letters, reports, petitions, scholarly documents, articles, diaries. The collection reproduced here illuminates her relations with the key players and offers insight into how federal policy was applied, resisted, and amended, as well as her internal conflicts over dividing the reservation.

Dividing the Reservation

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