Genealogy Research Suggestions:    

There are many unique and difficult challenges encountered when researching Native American (Indian) genealogy. The traditions, oral histories, naming customs and kinship systems varied widely among tribes; therefore, it is usually necessary that the researcher become familiar with those that pertain to a particular tribe.

Valuable records of federal government agencies, including records from various field offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, have been deposited throughout the United States. National Archives records, 1830-1940, deal chiefly with Indians who maintained their tribal status. These records include lists relating to Indian removal, annuity pay rolls, annual tribal census rolls of Indians who were under the Bureau's jurisdiction (living on reservations), special rolls relating to Eastern Cherokees, claims relating to Eastern Cherokees, estate files and Carlisle Indian School Files. The Bureau of Indian Affairs census rolls are separate from and unrelated to the federal decennial census schedules.

Any American Indian who fought with federal troops may have a record of veteran's benefits or bounty land. The National Archives military records section has a separate alphabetical file for each Indian veteran who served prior to 1870.

The staff of the National Archives and its branches cannot perform research for individuals. The National Archives branch in Fort Worth, TX has one of the largest collections of American Indian genealogy materials, much of which is on microfilm. For a complete list of holdings write: Chief, Archives Branch, Federal Archives and Records Center, P. O. Box 6216, Fort Worth, TX 76115.  Most of these records are full of family history details such as both Indian and "English" names, sex, degree of Indian blood, names of family, guardian, tribal and "band" affiliations, residence and occupation.

Early federal census records, 1790-1850, included Indians only if they lived in settled areas, were taxed, and did not maintain a tribal affiliation. These censuses did not specify their race. Indians were indicated as white, if living with white settlers, or black, if living with African Americans. Indians who lived on reservations or who roamed as nomads over unsettled tracts of land and were not taxed and were not counted in these federal censuses.

In the 1860 Federal Census, the category of "Indian (taxed)" was added. The 1870-1910 censuses included the category of Indian, whether taxed or not, but no Indians living on reservations were recorded in the federal censuses until 1890. Because the census of 1890 was destroyed however, the 1900 federal census is the first census available listing Indians on reservations. Microfilm of federal censuses is available through interlibrary loan from the Census Microfilm Rental Program, P. O. Box 30, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0030, or by personal rental from Heritage Quest Genealogical Services, P. O. Box 329, Bountiful, Utah, 84011, phone (800) 760-2455.

The Mormon church holds many birth records associated with southwestern tribes. Many long established churches have become valuable resources for documenting family lineage and names. County and State agencies should also be researched for family records.

You may also do DNA testing to find independent results of bloodline traits. Collect any and all information possible before attempting to contact any tribal authority to be prepared. Each nation has it's own rules to govern it's citizens membership status. You will need to contact the specific tribe to learn more about what the requirements are for enrollment.




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