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

Traditions and Legends along the Saco

Nancy Barton is supposed to have been the first white woman who passed through the Notch of the White Hills voluntarily. She was employed to keep a boarding-house for lumbermen in Jefferson; was industrious, faithful, and toiled early and late for small wages. Her employer was taken captive by the Indians and she served them liquor until they were all helpless; then cut the thongs with which he was bound and secured his liberty. She carefully husbanded her earnings, and in time had laid down a handsome sum. She was engaged to be married to one of the workmen and…

2019 Federally Recognized Tribes

This PDF comprises of pages 1200-1205 of the Federal Register/ Vol. 84, No. 22 / Friday, February 1, 2019 / Notices. In this bulletin, the Department of Interior published the list of Native American and Native Alaskan tribes which were federally recognized.

A Guide to Tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry

This is a pdf of the Department of Interior’s “Guide to tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry.”When establishing descent from an American Indian/American Native tribe for membership and enrollment purposes an individual must provide genealogical documentation that supports his or her claim of such ancestry from a specific tribe or tribal community. Such documentation must prove that the individual is a lineal descendant of an individual whose name can be found on the tribal membership roll of the federally recognized tribe from which the individual is claiming descent and is seeking to enroll.

Washington, Applications for Enrollment and Adoption of Washington Indians, 1911-1919

The collection consists of images of records created by Charles E. Roblin “Roblin Rolls of Non-Reservation Indians in Western Washington” during enrollment and adoption proceedings of Indian tribes for in Western Washington that were not on tribal census records. The records are from NARA microfilm publication M1343 and is part of Record Group 75 Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is arranged by tribal name claimed by the applicant then by name.

Pah-Ute cremation

A letter read before the American Philosophical Society in which W. J. Hoffman, who accompanied Wheeler on his Expedition of 1872, details how certain bands of the Pah-Utes (Paiutes) cremated their dead.

A Fresh Look at Ocmulgee Bottoms

Many of the most fundamental assumptions by the Anthropology profession concerning the Pre-European history of the Lower Southeast were developed during the mid-20th century as a result of a massive, federally-funded excavation of archaeological sites near Macon, GA. While today, anthropologists, museums and the National Park Service present a united front stating that the body of knowledge, which resulted from the Ocmulgee Bottoms studies, was the result of comprehensive analysis, plus well-thought out consensus by some of the most brilliant men of their time, the truth is quite a bit different.

Chilocco Indian School Records 1884-1980

Founded in 1883-84, the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School was one of the first, large off-reservation boarding schools established by the Federal government for the education of American Indian students. It offered academic and vocational training to children of tribes across the United States. This dataset comprises an historical collection of manuscripts and records pertaining to the school and its pupils.

Dawes Commission Case Files

The information found below 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.

Indians in Mason County Michigan 1850 Census

The following 75 people were identified as Indians (I) in column 6 (color) of the 1850 census for Mason County Michigan. One will note, that this does not follow the federal instructions for the census, as it was not intended that Native Americans be included in this census, but the enumerator did it anyway, and identified them with an I. Some census takers, enumerated their Native American residents with an M or B.

Children Transferred to Chilocco School, 1885-1902

This series includes originals of Form 5-138 describing children transferred from an agency to Chilocco Indian School. The statement is signed by the agent and certified by the physician of the home agency of the children. Information about children includes Indian name, English name, blood degree, nation, band, father’s name and rank, whether parents are living or dead, child’s sex, age, height, weight, and remarks.

The Ottawa Tribe of Kansas

The Ottawa were found on the Georgian Bay by Champlain in 1615. They seem to have been a people who traded much with other tribes. They had developed a commerce in tobacco, medicinal herbs and roots, rugs, mats, furs and skins, cornmeal, and an oil made of the seeds of the sunflower. They were in close alliance with the Hurons, or Wyandot, from the first. And the Wyandot raised tobacco for the Indian trade. The history of the Ottawa runs much like that of the other tribes found along the Great Lakes. They claim that they owned the country through…

Governor Houston at His Trading Post on the Verdigris

In February, 1828, the vanguard of Creek immigrants arrived at the Creek Agency on the Verdigris, in charge of Colonel Brearley, and they and the following members of the McIntosh party were located on a section of land that the Government promised in the treaty of 1826 to purchase for them. By the treaty of May 6, 1828, the Government assigned the Cherokee a great tract of land, to which they at once began to remove from their homes in Arkansas. The movement had been under way for some months when there appeared among the Indians the remarkable figure of…

Ocmulgee Bottoms in Recorded History

The Hernando de Soto Expedition, which departed from a Native town in the Florida Panhandle on March 3, 1540, marked a significant exploration of the southeastern United States. Initially encountering the Apalachee, misnamed by contemporary scholars, the expedition navigated through various indigenous territories, including the provinces of Capachequi and Toasi. De Soto’s journey, chronicled by his men, highlighted the diverse and complex societies of the Native American tribes, including those along the Ocmulgee River. Subsequent European expeditions, like those of the French Huguenots in the mid-1560s, further explored these regions. These expeditions, along with the Richard Brigstock Expedition of 1653…

The Osage Massacre

When the treaty council with the Osage at Fort Gibson broke up in disagreement on April 2, 1833, three hundred Osage warriors under the leadership of Clermont departed for the west to attack the Kiowa. It was Clermont’s boast that he never made war on the whites and never made peace with his Indian enemies. At the Salt Plains where the Indians obtained their salt, within what is now Woodward County, Oklahoma, they fell upon the trail of a large party of Kiowa warriors going northeast toward the Osage towns above Clermont’s. The Osage immediately adapted their course to that…

Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians

The Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians is a work of over 300 pages and is an original contribution of the highest value to ethnography. Its title affords but an imperfect idea of its scope; for, in addition to an elaborate description of the Kiowa calendars, the author gives us, in 106 pages, a sketch of the tribe including its documentary history, a list of western military and trading posts, an extensive glossary of the Kiowa language, and other items of information which lead to a thorough understanding of the calendars.

Newly Analyzed – Migration Legend of the Creek Indians

Cover letter for the Migration Legend
Native American History and Genealogy 2
In 2007, Architect Richard L. Thornton, a Creek scholar and member of the People of One Fire research alliance began sporadically looking online for the Migration Legend. ((Thornton, Richard L.. “Original Migration Legend discovered.” http://peopleofonefire.com/news-flash-original-copy-of-the-migration-legend-of-the-creek-people-rediscovered.html June 1, 2015.)) He had no success for the next seven years. On December 21, 2012, Thornton was a key cast member on the premier of the hit History Channel Series, “America Unearthed.” ((History Channel, “America Unearthed.” Season 1, Episode 1, “The Georgia-Mayan Connection.”)) The program was about the evidence of Maya refugees settling in Georgia…

A Modern Translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People

Here we present Richard Thornton’s modern translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People with extensive annotations. His annotations provide important historical references bringing the much famed Creek Legend into better understanding for researchers.

Thornton’s Translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People

In 2015, after many years of searching, Richard Thornton found the impossible, the original Migration Legend of the Creek People. Gatschet in his famed manuscript which greatly covered this legend stated emphatically “The chances of rediscovering the original English translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People are therefore almost as slim as recovering the lost books of Livy’s History.” That original English translation still remains lost as Gatschet predicted. But why settle for the English translation when you can find the original? The following is Thornton’s transcription from the original velum of the Migration Legend. Thornton indicates in…
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Scroll to Top