Native American History and Genealogy

Native American History and Genealogy serves as a comprehensive guide for those starting their research into Native American ancestry. This guide includes valuable information on available record types: Bureau of Indian Affairs agencies and reservations, census, church, and military records, as well as schools, annuity, allotment, treaties, removal records, archives and libraries, cultural groups, and forts. With this extensive range of topics, individuals can gain a better understanding of the history and culture of Native Americans and locate valuable resources to aid in their genealogy research endeavors.

Several approaches could be taken to locate information about a potential American Indian ancestor.

  • If the name of the tribe with which the ancestor was associated is known, a researcher should study the history and culture of that tribe and locate the records created by various records jurisdictions for that tribe. See: Indian Tribes of the United States
  • If the tribe is not known, a more logical approach would be to determine the tribes associated with the locality or localities where the ancestor resided. In this case, sometimes only the state is known. Occasionally a county of residence is known. In either case, the records of that locality should be searched until the association of the ancestor is established or at least strongly suspected. See: The Indian Tribes of North America
  • If a residence close to a reservation or a Bureau of Indian Affairs agency is known, the history of the reservation or agency and the location of records they generated could be studied. See: Indian Reservations in 1908

The Bureau of Indian Affairs and its various offices generated numerous records, many of which have been preserved by the National Archives of the United States and its regional archives. Several of these records are currently being digitized and indexed by internet websites and commercial companies, facilitating access to valuable information for researchers.

Apart from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, other jurisdictions, such as churches, schools, hospitals, and more, also recorded information about American Indians. These jurisdictions may contain valuable records of individual Indians that warrant further study. Therefore, exploring a variety of sources is essential to conduct thorough research on Native American ancestry.

Essential Links

Indian Tribes of the United States

AccessGenealogy offers an extensive cross-reference of our tribal pages, allowing for a more streamlined research experience. Previously, we provided a comprehensive list of resources for each tribe in the United States. However, we have now shifted to a cross-reference system, where these resources can be found directly on the tribal pages. This approach enables us to focus on providing more accurate tribal spellings while still directing you to the relevant tribal page.

Each tribal page includes a description of the tribe, information on the villages where the tribe resided, details about the gens and clans, culture, religion, and references to other works available on our website. By utilizing this comprehensive resource, researchers can access a wealth of information about Native American tribes and their histories.


Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico

The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico serves as a comprehensive resource for researchers seeking information on all tribes north of Mexico, including the Eskimo, as well as those tribes affiliated with those in the United States south of the boundary. The handbook’s scope is as broad as its function necessitates, aiming to provide a brief description of every linguistic stock, confederacy, tribe, subtribe, or tribal division and settlement known to history or tradition. Additionally, the handbook delves into the origin and derivation of every name discussed, along with every other appellation that could be learned.

AccessGenealogy has utilized this invaluable resource to develop the Native American section of our website. We believe that this comprehensive information is essential to Native American researchers and serves as the foundation of our tribal descriptions. With this information, we have built a rich resource for individuals seeking to explore the culture and history of Native American tribes.


The Indian Tribes of North America

Swanton’s The Indian Tribes of North America is a seminal work of Native American ethnological research from the early 20th century. This manuscript was published in 1953 in Bulletin 145 of the Bureau of American Ethnology, providing a comprehensive breakdown of all known Indian tribes by location (state). AccessGenealogy’s online presentation of Swanton’s work offers state pages, providing users with a brief history of the tribe or referring them to a more in-depth ethnological representation of the tribe and its place in history.

These ethnological descriptions typically include various names by which the tribe was known, general locations of the tribe, village names, a brief history, population statistics for the tribe, and notable connections with other tribes or groups. With this rich and detailed information, researchers can gain a better understanding of the culture, history, and traditions of Native American tribes across North America.


Free US Indian Census Rolls 1885-1940

AccessGenealogy offers free access to all of the 1885-1940 Indian census rolls along with their corresponding images. The majority of these rolls, dated after 1900, were typewritten and organized alphabetically, simplifying the process of locating your ancestor. However, earlier rolls were often handwritten and the quality of the film may be poor at times.

Beginning in 1930, the rolls included additional information such as the degree of Indian blood, marital status, ward status, place of residence, and other relevant details. This comprehensive information can be immensely valuable to researchers seeking to uncover their Native American ancestry. With AccessGenealogy’s extensive collection of Indian census rolls, researchers can gain a better understanding of their ancestors and the history of Native American communities.


Indian Treaties Acts and Agreements

The collection of Indian treaties, acts, and agreements represents a significant historical record of federal and state treaties made with various Indian tribes. Even today, treaties remain a critical tool for the American government to engage with other nations. The United States recognized many Native American tribes as distinct nations and negotiated treaties with them to express friendship, purchase land, or establish terms of peace following a conflict.

These treaties offer a unique and vivid history of each tribe and often contain lists of names of the individuals who signed them or were otherwise involved. AccessGenealogy has made a diligent effort to include these lists of names as attachments to the treaties, providing researchers with valuable insights into their ancestors and their roles in these important historical agreements. With this comprehensive collection of Indian treaties, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of Native American history and the complex relationships between tribes and the American government.



History of the Indian Tribes of North America

Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs, Embellished with one Hundred Portraits, from the Indian Gallery in the Department of War, at Washington. Thomas L. McKenney, of the Indian Department, Washington, and James Hall, Esq., of Cincinnati, produced one of the most artistic renditions of Native Americans to be printed. The usage of 100 portraits from the Indian gallery in the War Department provided a visual reference into the style of dress and personal appearance of many leaders of tribes. The biographical sketches and anecdotes should give you an overview into the life of each Indian and their relevance to their tribal affiliation and American culture.


Indian Schools, Seminaries, and Asylums

In 1878, the United States government implemented a policy of assimilation for Native American people with the goal of integrating them into mainstream American society. To achieve this, the government established first day schools and boarding schools to educate Native American children. This policy involved separating children from their families and placing them in government-run boarding schools, with the aim of Americanizing them while distancing them from their traditional families and cultures.

This collection of data aims to provide comprehensive details on the Native American children who were institutionalized and sometimes died in these schools. It includes information such as their names, tribal affiliations, ages, and other relevant data that can help identify these children and their families. By shining a light on this dark period of American history, AccessGenealogy aims to provide a fuller understanding of the devastating impact of the government’s assimilation policies on Native American communities.


Free Native American Databases

The following are genealogy databases specific to Native American research. Also make sure to check the list for both “new” and “featured.”

  1. 1817 Cherokee Reservation Roll
    A listing of Cherokees claimants applying for a 640 acre tract in the East in lieu of removing to Arkansas. This was only good during their lifetime and then the property reverted back to the state. This is only an index of applicants, in most instances the people listed here did not receive the reservation they requested.
  2. 1880 Cherokee Census
    This is a transcription of the index for Schedule One and includes all nine districts. This index can be found on microfilm through the LDS organization on microfilm #989204. National Archives also has a microfilm index for this census. It is found on Roll # 7RA07. The transcription presently has data for only the following districts: Canadian, Cooweescoowee, Flint, Illinois and Saline. We are still presently transcribing Delaware, Goingsnake, Sequoyah, and Tahlequah Districts.
  3. 1924 Baker Roll
    The final roll of the Eastern Cherokee, prepared by United States Agent Fred A. Baker, pursuant to an act of the 68th Congress, (43 stat., 376), June 4, 1924. Before preparation of this roll, the Act required that all land, money, and other property of the Tribe be transferred to the United States for final disposition. Termination of the Tribe as a government and political entity was the ultimate goal. After termination efforts failed, the Tribe continued to use the 1924 Baker Roll as its base roll. Descendants of those persons of the original Baker Roll are enrolled on the Baker Revised Roll, providing they meet the membership requirements of the Tribe.
  4. 1954 Proposed Ute Rolls
    The 1954 Proposed Ute Rolls contains 2 rolls, the Full Blood Roll and the Mixed Blood Roll of the Ute Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah. These are the PROPOSED rolls, and do not signify that the individuals listed upon it actually received any distribution under Title 25, Chapter 14, Subchapter 28, U.S. Code.
  5. Armstrong Rolls
    Search and understand the Armstrong Rolls as they relate to your Choctaw ancestor. Each Choctaw head of a family being desirous to remain and become a citizen of the States, shall be permitted to do so, by signifying his intention to the Agent within six months from the ratification of this Treaty, and he or she shall thereupon be entitled to a reservation of one section of six hundred and forty acres of land, to be bounded by sectional lines of survey; in like manner shall be entitled to one half that quantity for each unmarried child which is living with him over ten years of age; and a quarter section to such child as may be under 10 years of age, to adjoin the location of the parent. If they reside upon said lands intending to become citizens of the States for five years after the ratification of this Treaty, in that case a grant in fee simple shall issue; said reservation shall include the present improvement of the head of the family, or a portion of it. Persons who claim under this article shall not lose the privilege of a Choctaw citizen, but if they ever remove are not to be entitled to any portion of the Choctaw annuity.
  6. Dawes Commission Case Files
    The information found is relevant to the specific card/case number used to identify each Dawes Packet. This is an index of the census card, and not a complete index of the Dawes Packet. But it should give you an idea of the people who may be mentioned inside the packet.
  7. Dawes Rolls – See Final Rolls
  8. Drennen Rolls
    First census of the new arrivals of 1839. This was the first enumeration of Indians after the Trail of Tears, many believe that this roll is a list of those who were on the Trail.  At this time no evidence has been found to prove that information. The Drennen roll is a per-capita payment made to Cherokees living in the west who removed as a result and after the Treaty of 1835 Article 9. The roll was prepared by John Drennen and contains the payee’s name, Cherokee district and then family group.
  9. Final Rolls Index
    This is the index to the names of individuals entitled to enrollment on the rolls of the various tribes comprising the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Each index entry gives an enrollee’s name and final roll number. After a person’s enrollment category and final roll number have been determined, the final rolls can be searched to discover the enrollee’s census card number. Not all roll numbers mentioned in this index, have a corresponding person mentioned in the Dawes Roll.
    • Search the Final Rolls
      The Dawes Roll (Final Rolls) is a list of those members of the Five Civilized Tribes who removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) during the 1800’s and were living there during the above dates. If your ancestor was not living in Indian Territory during 1898-1914 they will not be listed on the Dawes Roll! Only those Indians who RECEIVED LAND under the provisions of the Dawes Act are listed. It also lists those Freedmen who received land allotments as provided for in the Dawes Act. These pages can be searched to discover the enrollee’s name, age, sex, blood degree, type, census card number and roll number. Check the headings in each column. Type denotes whether the record is from a Dawes card.
  10. Guion Miller Roll
    The Guion Miller Roll index includes the names of all persons applying for compensation arising from the judgment of the United States Court of Claims on May 28, 1906, for the Eastern Cherokee tribe. While numerous individuals applied, not all the claims were allowed. The information included on the index is the application number, the name of the applicant, and the State or Territory in which the individual resided at the time the application was filed. The name being there does not mean the person was admitted.
  11. Kern Clifton Rolls
    In 1896-1897 the Kern-Clifton Roll was created to fill in the omissions of the Wallace Roll. Genealogists not finding their Cherokee ancestor in the Kern-Clifton Roll, should search the Wallace Roll to insure that this ancestor was not one of those originally identified by the John Wallace census. This census of the Freedmen and their descendants of the Cherokee Nation taken by the Commission appointed in the case of Moses Whitmire, Trustee of the Freedmen of the Cherokee Nation vs. The Cherokee Nation and the United States in the Court of Claims at Washington, D. C., the said Commission being composed of William Clifton, William Thompson and Robert H. Kern, the same being made from the testimony taken before said Commission in the Cherokee Nation between May 4th and August 10th, 1896.
  12. McKennon Roll
    In 1896-1897 the Kern-Clifton Roll was created to fill in the omissions of the Wallace Roll. Proposed Legislation for the Full-blood and identified Choctaws of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama: Memorial Evidence and Brief published I believe in 1913.
  13. Old Settlers Roll
    A listing of Cherokee still living in 1851 who were all ready residing in Oklahoma when the main body of the Cherokee arrived in the winter of 1839, as a result of the Treaty of New Echota (1835). Approximately one third of the Cherokee people were Old Settlers and two thirds new arrivals. The 1851 payroll lists Old Settlers (Cherokees who moved to Indian Territory prior to December 1835) entitled to participate in a per capita payment. There were 3,273 persons enumerated on this roll which is arranged by Cherokee district and grouped by family. Some persons who did not reside in the Cherokee Nation are listed as “Non-residents.” Three thousand, two hundred and seventy three Cherokees were enrolled and each received two hundred, seventy dollars and ninety five cents. The “Old Settlers” filed a protest against the sum. The Supreme Court decided that the original “Old Settlers” or their heirs would receive an additional one hundred, fifty nine dollars and ten cents per share in the 1896 “Old Settler” payment.
  14. Wallace Roll
    The Wallace Roll of Cherokee Freedmen in Indian Territory was created due to the citizenship of many ex-slaves (freedmen) being disputed by the Cherokee Tribe. To the freedmen, the ability to establish their status was important, not only for the sharing of the Cherokee lands, but also the payments and annuities the Cherokee Tribe was to receive in the future. A series of investigations were conducted by John W. Wallace, 1889-1890; Leo E. Bennett, 1891-92; Marcus D. Shelby, 1893; James G. Dickson, 1895-96; William Clifton, William Thompson, and Robert H. Kern, 1896-97. These investigations resulted in the Cherokee Freedmen Rolls known as the Wallace Roll, and the Kern-Clifton Roll.

Recent Native American Genealogy

Eel River Indians

The Eel River Indians were a part of the Miami, formerly living in Indiana. Their village was at Thorntown, Boone County, where they had a reservation, which was sold in 1828, the band removing to the Miami Reservation between the Wabash and Eel rivers, in Miami County. They afterward shared the general fortunes of the tribe.

1910 Peoria Census

Pages of the 1910 Peoria Census. Contains table showing the previous roll number, current roll number, Indian name if given, English name if given, Relationship, Age, and Sex. Also contains the original images of the census.

1910 Ottawa Census

Pages of the 1910 Ottawa Census. Contains table showing the previous roll number, current roll number, Indian name if given, English name if given, Relationship, Age, and Sex. Also contains the original images of the census.

1910 Modoc Census

Pages of the 1910 Modoc Census. Contains table showing the previous roll number, current roll number, Indian name if given, English name if given, Relationship, Age, and Sex. Also contains the original images of the census.

1910 Western Miami Census

Pages of the 1910 Western Miami Census. Contains table showing the previous roll number, current roll number, Indian name if given, English name if given, Relationship, Age, and Sex. Also contains the original images of the census.

1910 Eastern Shawnee Census

Pages of the 1910 Eastern Shawnee Census. Contains table showing the previous roll number, current roll number, Indian name if given, English name if given, Relationship, Age, and Sex. Also contains the original images of the census.

1914 Eastern Shawnee Census

The 1914 census record of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe from the Quapaw Agency was taken on June 30, 1914, in Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. The Eastern Shawnee Tribe primarily resides in northeastern Oklahoma, having separated from other Shawnee groups in the 19th century to establish their community in this region. Recognized as a federally recognized tribe, the Eastern Shawnee have their own government and tribal structure. The purpose of the 1914 census was to maintain an official record of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe members as part of the U.S. government’s broader efforts to document Native American populations. This…

1893 Peter Maytubby’s Roll

Peter Maytubby’s Roll of 1893 lists Chickasaw residents in the Choctaw Territory in 1893. The roll consists of names on loose, badly broken sheets of paper. Parts of the roll are in precarious condition. This dataset is part 2 which contains 89 names of registered Chickasaw.

1893 Ieshatubby Roll

This is a verified roll of Chickasaws registered by Ieshatubby in the Choctaw Nation under the act of June 20, 1893. The sheets are divided into columns for names, number of men, number of women, number of boys, number of girls, and totals. This roll does not indicate the amount paid or the recipients of the payments. It consists of two sheets of legal-cap paper; some names are written in ink, others in pencil. The word “paid” is generally written or indicated by ditto marks in the totals column. This roll was utilized by the Dawes Commission for enrollment purposes…

Treaty of 10 December 1850 – Texas Indians

In a historic meeting on December 10, 1850, near the headwaters of Wallace Creek, Special Agent John H. Rollins forged a pivotal peace treaty with the chiefs of numerous Texas Indian tribes. This landmark agreement, aimed at establishing peace and defining relations between the U.S. government and these tribes, covers a wide array of commitments from acknowledging U.S. jurisdiction to regulating trade, ensuring mutual peace, and setting forth guidelines for the return of prisoners and stolen property. With the original treaty held in Washington and a copy in the Texas State Library, this document remains a crucial piece of history…

1822 Odanak Census

The 1822 Odanak Census is a transcription of the 1822 census for Odanak in the village of St. Francois. The people here at the time were comprised of several different remnant tribes under the name of St. Francis Indians.

Alleged 1818 Chickasaw Roll – Surname Index

This is an English surname transcription of the alleged 1818 Chickasaw roll said to have been lost in the beginning of the 19th century. I expect, if this is a true roll, that it is the result of the Treaty of October 19, 1818 between the Chickasaw Nation and the United States. I have some doubts, however, as the treaty stipulates payments and land to the tribe, not to individual tribal members as later treaties would. It would be at the discretion of the tribe on how to settle the reservation and distribute the payments.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) is a federally recognized Native American tribe situated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Primarily composed of members of the Anishinaabe people, specifically the Ojibwa (also known as Chippewa), the KBIC has a rich history that’s woven into the broader narrative of Native American existence in the Great Lakes region. This article delves into the detailed history of this vibrant community, tracing its roots, its struggles, and its achievements.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

This comprehensive history delves into the origins, struggle, and current status of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Starting from their ancient Anishinaabeg roots in the Great Lakes region, it chronicles their interactions with European settlers, loss of traditional ways, and efforts for federal recognition. The article also recounts the tribe’s transformation from a community with meager resources into a significant economic entity, spanning across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is a testament to the tribe’s resilience, highlighting their continued growth and importance in today’s socio-economic landscape.

The Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma

The Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, hailing from the term “adawe” or ‘trade’, played an instrumental role in North America’s fur trade. This article chronicles their history, from early interactions with the French to contemporary times, highlighting significant milestones such as their involvement in the French and Indian War, their migrations, and their efforts towards educating their children. It also details their temporary termination by the U.S. Government in 1956 and subsequent reinstatement in 1978, emphasizing the resilience of the tribe throughout their enduring history.

Jackson Sundown

The horse became a very important part of the Nez Perce people. Not only for hunting in buffalo country, but the horse was a warrior. Nez Perce learned to breed and work with horses. Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn (Jackson Sundown) from an early age worked and cared for horses. Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn was a famous all-around cowboy, horseman, and excellent rider and breeder of horses. Jackson Sundown in 1920 The Nez Perce War of 1877 began and Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn was 14 years old. Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn and Sam Tilden (Suhm-Keen) both were assigned to attend to the horses in the evening and herd the horses while the tribe…

Big Sandy Rancheria History

In 1909, the Big Sandy Rancheria of Auberry became a sanctuary for the Western Mono Indians, thanks to the Bureau of Indian Affairs securing 280 acres in California. However, the 1958 California Rancheria Act, which aimed at terminating the trust status of lands for 41 Rancherias including Big Sandy, marked the beginning of a challenging period. The Rancheria’s subsequent struggle with termination and the loss of federal support led to socioeconomic hardships. In a significant turnaround, a 1983 court decision restored the Rancheria’s status, offering a fresh start towards self-sufficiency.

1859 List of Munsee from Leavenworth County Kansas

This list was adapted for the web from a photocopy of a two-page typed document possessed by the family of Clio Caleb Church. Since it has no official heading or signature, the document appears to be someone’s transcription of an original report to the Office of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior. Likely this is a census of the Munsee who were moving from Leavenworth County to the new reservation in Franklin County, coinciding with the Treaty of 1859. It is not an enrollment list — it includes non-Indian spouses and there are no enrollment or allotment numbers. The document…

A Guide to Tracing American Indian Ancestry

A Guide to Tracing American Indian Ancestry provides researchers a methodology for researching their Native American family tree. One of the most frequent questions we get at AccessGenealogy is how do I research my Native American ancestry? This guide, published by NARA is meant to assist you in finding the Federal records available for each tribe, and using them to research your own family tree.
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