Century of Dishonor

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CENTURY OF DISHONOR. Written by Helen Maria Hunt Jackson and published in 1881, Century of Dishonor called attention to what Jackson termed the government's "shameful record of broken treaties and unfulfilled promises" and helped spark calls for the reform of federal Indian policy. Formerly uninvolved with reform causes, Jackson, a well-known poet, became interested in Indian issues after hearing of the removal of the Ponca tribe to Indian territory and the Poncas' subsequent attempt to escape and return to their homeland in Nebraska. A commercial success, Century of Dishonor also proved influential in shaping the thinking of reform organizations such as the Women's National Indian Association, the Indian Rights Association, and the Lake Mo-honk Conference of the Friends of the Indians, all of which were founded between 1879 and 1883. Jackson distributed a copy of her book to each member of Congress. Believing that the United States was faced with a choice of exterminating or assimilating Indians, Jackson advocated greater efforts to Christianize and to educate Native Americans, as well as the passage of legislation to allot their lands to individual Indians.


Mathes, Valerie Sherer. Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Re-form Legacy. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.

Prucha, Francis Paul. American Indian Policy in Crisis: Christian Reformers and the Indians, 1865–1900. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976.


See alsoDawes General Allotment Act ; Indian Policy, U.S.: 1775–1830, 1830–1900 ; andvol. 9:A Century of Dishonor .