Dawes Act or General Allotment Act, 1887, passed by the U.S. Congress to provide for the granting of landholdings ( allotments, usually 160 acres/65 hectares) to individual Native Americans, replacing communal tribal holdings. Sponsored by U.S. Senator H. L. Dawes, the aim of the act was to absorb tribe members into the larger national society. Allotments could be sold after a statutory period (25 years), and “surplus” land not allotted was opened to settlers. Within decades following the passage of the act the vast majority of what had been tribal land in the West was in white hands.