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An Act to Authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue certificates of citizenship to Indians, June 2, 1924

Before 1924 citizenship was not available to all American Indians. Some had acquired citizenship through military service, marriage, receipt of federal land, or special treaties or statutes. Forty percent were not citizens, however, and existing laws barred them from the naturalization processes open to foreigners. The Indian Citizenship Act confirmed citizenship for all American Indians born in the United States.

General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives and Records Administration

An Act to Authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue certificates of citizenship to Indians, June 2, 1924

Granting Citizenship to American Indians

On June 2, 1924, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, which was also known as the Snyder Act. It was named after the bill’s sponsor, Representative Homer P. Snyder of New York. The act granted citizenship to all American Indians born in the United States. American Indians had volunteered and served in World War I in large numbers, and citizenship was seen in part as a reward for their military service. At the time, 125,000 out of an estimated population of 300,000 American Indians were not U.S. citizens.

I am an Indian and never had any Experience in a war before, but I realize that I was doing my duty as a patriot and was fighting to save Democracy and do hope that in the future we Indian’s may Enjoy freedom which we Indian’s are always denied.

Joe High Elk, Cheyenne River Sioux, List of Indians in the World War Questionnaire, ca. 1919–1920