U.S. Citizenship Conferred on All Native Americans

1924

United States

Borders Citizenship Identity & Belonging

In 1924, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted U.S. citizenship to all indigenous persons living within the nation’s borders. Many Native Americans had previously gained citizenship through alternate means such as joining the military, accepting the terms of the Dawes Severalty Act (see also:Native Americans’ political autonomy threatened 1887), or marrying white Americans. The act was not a result of Native American advocacy and activism. Rather, the act reflected the general trend in federal Indian policy since the 1880s to promote assimilation and diminish the sovereignty of Native nations. Perhaps the strongest impetus for the act was the military service of thousands of Native Americans during World War I. While the act guaranteed full citizenship rights on a federal level, Native Americans still faced discriminatory laws and practices that prevented them from accessing their new voting rights at the state level.