Burke Act Law and Legal Definition

Burke Act of 1906 is designed to correct certain defects in the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887 that intended to break and distribute the Indian reservation lands to individual Indians. The Burke Act provides that at the end of twenty-five years, Indians would be enfranchised as citizens and be subjects of civil and criminal jurisdictions of the state in which they reside.

By amending the GAA, the Burke Act gave the Secretary of Interior the power to issue allottees a patent in fee to people classified as ‘competent and capable’. The clause competent and capable under the Act meant a mixed blood Indians with some European Ancestry.