Land Fractionation

The Result of Allotment

Historical Background: The Dawes Act (General Allotment Act of 1887)

The Dawes Act...

  • Authorized the President of the United States to survey Indian tribal land and divide it into allotments for individual Indians.
  • Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 ended allotment.
  • Effects of this policy can still be felt today in the resulting fractionation of trust land.
Map of allotments drawn on paper with grids indicating different sections.

Indian Allotments on the Rosebud Reservation, 1903

(from the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Archives)


A Serious Problem Facing Communities

  • As tracts (or allotments) of lands are passed down through generations, they gain more and more individual owners.
  • Because the number of owners make it difficult to use the land, these allotments often lie idle and cannot be used for any beneficial purpose.
  • Currently, there are approximately 150 locations with fractionated tracts of land, with approximately 243,000 unique owners.

Original Allotment

100 acres

2nd Generation


3rd Generation


4th Generation


5th Generation


6th Generation


An illustration depicting fractionation of a possible allotment of

land over six generations, assuming only three heirs per generation.

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Read More: Why Is Land Consolidation Important?

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