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The Civilization Fund Act was an Act passed by the United States Congress on March 3, 1819. The Act encouraged activities of benevolent societies in providing education for Native Americans and authorized an annuity to stimulate the "civilization process".[1] Thomas L. McKenney lobbied the Congress in support of the legislation. The Civilization Fund Act led to the formation of numerous Native American boarding schools towards the end of the 19th century.

Civilization Fund Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act making provision for the civilization of the Indian tribes adjoining the frontier settlements.
NicknamesCivilization Fund Act of 1819
Enacted bythe 15th United States Congress
EffectiveMarch 3, 1819
Public law15-85
Statutes at LargeStat. 516b
Legislative history

The benevolent societies were a combination of Christian missions and the federal government.

Federal funds were allocated to schools designed to educate Native Americans in the ways of the white man. The goal was to "civilize" Native Americans by getting rid of their traditions and customs and teaching them reading and writing in the missionary schools.[2]

The passage of the Act helped define a class structure within Native American society. While traditional Native Americans opposed the schools, "progressive" ones accepted the schools. Their education and command of the English language propelled them to leadership positions within tribes and ultimately led to policy shifts and treaties that ceded land to the United States government.[3]

"That for the purpose of guarding against the further decline and final extinction of the Indian tribes, adjoining the frontier settlements of the United States, are for introducing among them the habits and arts of civilization" annual sum/annuity is ten thousand dollars "and an account of the expenditure of the money, and proceedings in execution of the foregoing provisions, shall be laid annually before Congress."[4]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was created in 1824 by the federal government and placed into the War Department. It was created in order to administer the annuity given to the schools.[5]


  1. ^ Hamilton, Robert. "United States and Native American Relations". Florida Gulf Coast University. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  2. ^ Levy, Yolanda H. "Deculturalization and Schooling of Native Americans", Retrieved on September 9, 2009
  3. ^ Jeynes, William. "American educational history: school, society, and the common good", Retrieved September 9, 2009
  4. ^ Prucha, Francis Paul (2000). "Documents of United States Indian Policy", p.33. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data., United States of America. ISBN 0-8032-8762-3
  5. ^ Digital History Online Textbook. "The Missionary Impulse" Archived February 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, "Native American Voices", September 9, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009.

Further readingEdit

  • Ellinghaus, Katherine. "Taking Assimilation to Heart: Marriages of White Women and Indigenous Men in the United States and Australia, 1887-1937" also there were fights about it, ISBN 0-8032-1829-X, 9780803218291, 2006.
  • Hale, Lorraine. "Native American Education: A Reference Handbook", ISBN 1-57607-363-7, ISBN 978-1-57607-363-6, 2002.

External linksEdit