Born this day in 1816, Mary Lucinda Bonney, educator and advocate for Native Americans Land Rights. Bonney was educated at Troy Female Seminary. Opening her own school in 1850, Chestnut Street Female Seminary in Philadelphia. She was the president for 38 years. Bonney also active in fund raising for missionaries overseas.
But, when Bonney became aware of the plight of the Native Americans; the United States government was not honoring their land treaties with the Native American Tribes. Bonney took up the Cause.
She opened Women’s National Indian Association. Bonney lobbied Congress to return the Lands of the Native Americans back in their trust.
The white settlers moving across the Great Plains, the Native Americans reservations became smaller or disappeared. Bonney traveled across the country collecting signatures to petition Congress to honor the Native Americans homeland. In the end, Bonney collected 50,000 signatures which she presented to Congress which lead to the Dawes Act of 1887.
The Dawes Act:
The impact on Indians of the Dawes Act was negative. The act "was the culmination of American attempts to destroy tribes and their governments and to open Indian lands to settlement by non-Indians and to development by railroads." Land owned by Indians decreased from 138 million acres in 1887 to 48 million acres in 1934.And, there was a provision that any excess land could be given to any white settlers moving into the West! There was no intention to help the Tribes but to divide and conquer. And 1908, the Act was then known as The Curtus Act, which completed the process of destroying tribal government but abolishing tribal jurisdiction of Indian Land.
Bonney kept fighting the good fight for the Native American Tribes and for their land rights until her death in 1900.