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Since the passage of the Indian Intercourse Act during the second session of the first Congress in 1790, the United States Congress has shaped the lives of the Indigenous peoples of North America. The Manuscript Division holds the papers of over 900 members of Congress; the collections below represent a sample of those with the most extensive or historically significant material related to Native Americans.
The collections document representatives' correspondence with their Native constituents, personal or political interests in issues affecting Native Americans, and their participation on various committees and subcommittees related to Indian affairs. Included are records related to Robert Latham Owen (pictured on the right), who was of Cherokee descent.
Standout collections on this topic include the papers of Henry L. Dawes, senator from Massachusetts and author of the Dawes Act of 1887, which had far-ranging consequences for Native American sovereignty, resulting in the loss of two thirds of the land previously under Native control.1 The Dawes papers include rich records of Dawes's tenure on the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, which was tasked in implementing allotment and tribal registration.
The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.