After 40 years of failed Indian policy, the U.S. Senate called these hearings to see what could be done to improve matters. Under the Dawes Act (or General Allotment Act) of 1887, tribal lands previously held in common by Indian nations had been split up into small parcels for individual owners. The government had said this was because it wanted to encourage self-sufficient farming, but under the Dawes Act some parcels could be sold to non-Indians and Native American owners could lose their land if they became too poor to pay taxes or debts. Forty years later the Secretary of the Interior ordered an investigation into the consequences of the Dawes Act, and in 1928 its 160-page "Merriam Report" declared that allotment had been a disaster for Native American communities. Non-Indians had acquired almost half of all Indian lands in the U.S., and poverty, disease, and anger had all skyrocketed on reservations. In 1928 the Senate ordered the new hearings excerpted here, in order to figure out how to fix the situation. The hearings ultimately lasted for 15 years and filled 41 volumes of text.