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

Belle Glade Culture of Lake Okeechobee

Archaeological terminology gets confusing to laymen as we move closer to the present. Archaeologists have placed the label of Glades Culture for South Florida, except around Lake Okeechobee, where it is now labeled the Belle Glade Culture. ((McGoun, William E. (1993). Prehistoric Peoples of South Florida. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press; p. 101.)) Originally, the Belle Glade Culture was divided into three periods by archaeologist Gordon Wiley. They were Transitional (1000 BC- 500 BC,) Belle Glade I (500 BC-1000 AD) Belle and Belle Glade II (1000 AD-1700 AD.) More commonly accepted now by Florida archaeologists is the labeling suggested…

The Archaic Period of Lake Okeechobee

Archaeologists define the Archaic Period in southern Florida as lasting from around 7500 BC to around 500 BC. ((Florida Division of Historical Resources. 10000-3000 BC.)) During the first half of this period, there were (in geological time) rapid environmental changes in the Florida Peninsula. In the latter half of this period, there were rapid cultural changes in Southeastern North America, but it is not known at the present time how completely those changes were manifested in southern Florida. A cultural connection between the Lake Okeechobee Basin and northeast Georgia remains little known, both inside and outside the archaeology profession. The…

Early Human’s Presence around Lake Okeechobee

Anthropologists believe that mankind has lived somewhere in southern Florida for at least 12,000 years. Its sub-tropical climate, abundance of water and fertile peat soils produces a diverse range of animal and vegetative food sources for humans year round. However, to date no Paleo-American artifacts have been discovered in or along the shores of the lake. Such evidences of the past are probably buried deep under the peat in scattered locations. They have been found in abundance about 88 miles (110 km) to the northwest in two natural springs near Sarasota, FL.

Lake Okeechobee Geology

Okeechobee is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek (Miccosukee) words Oka chopi, which mean “Water Big.” Its aboriginal inhabitants called the lake either Maya-imi, which apparently means “Maya Water or Mayakaa, which means Maya People in several northern South American tongues. The Spanish called it Laguna de Mayaco or on some maps Laguna de Espiritu Santo. However, that name more typically applied to the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee River. In 1821, when Florida was ceded to the United States, the earliest English language maps generally retained the Mayaco name, but some called it Macaco.

Wiyot Tribe

A small tribe, whose name Powell adopted for the Wishoskan linguistic family, on the coast of North California about Humboldt Bay. The word seems to be a misapplication of their own name for their Athapascan neighbors, Wishashk. Wiyot, which has sometimes been used as an equivalent, is therefore probably a better term than Wishosk, though not entirely exact.

Plans for the Colonization and Defense of Apalache, 1675

Florida June 15, 1675 To His Majesty D. Pablo de Yta Salazar ((The governor of Florida.)) hereby renders account of the investigation made in regard to the most suitable places in these Provinces for settlement by Spanish families. All are agreed that the town of Apalache ((Tallahassee is the center of what was the Spanish province of Apalache. The early Georgians called the region Apalache Old Fields from the deserted fields which were overgrown with pines.)) and the surrounding territory is best because of the great fertility of the soil. If the settlers be farmers the crops will be abundant…

A Visit to Track Rock in 1848

Logan’s Plantation, Georgia, April, 1848. During my stay at Dahlonega I heard a good deal said about a native wonder, called “Track Rock,” which was reported to be some thirty miles off, on the northwestern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On revolving the information in my mind, I concluded that this rock was identical with one which had been mentioned to me by Professor James Jackson, of the University of Georgia, and I also remembered that the Professor had shown me a specimen of the rock he alluded to, which contained the imprint or impression of a human foot.…

Valley of Nacoochee, Georgia, April, 1848

I now write from the most charming valley of this southern wilderness. The river Nacoochee is a tributary of the Chattahoochee, and, for this country, is a remarkably clear, cold, and picturesque stream. From the moment that it doffs the title of brook and receives the more dignified one of river, it begins to wind itself in a most wayward manner through a valley which is some eight or ten miles long, when it wanders from the vision of the ordinary traveler and loses itself among unexplored hills. The valley is perhaps a mile wide, and, as the surrounding hills…

A Description of the Towns on Coosau and Tallapoosa Rivers

Tal-e-see, from tal-o-fau, a town, and e-see, taken. Situated in the fork of Eu fau-le on the left bank of Tal-la-poo-sa, opposite Took-au-bat-che. Eu-fau-be has its source in the ridge dividing the waters of Chat-to-ho-che, from Tal-la-poo-sa, and runs nearly west to the junction with the river; there it is sixty feet wide. The land on it is poor for some miles up, then rich flats, bordered with pine land with reedy branches, a fine range for cattle and horses. The Indians have mostly left the town, and settled up the creek, or on its waters, for twenty miles. The…

Ancient Tumuli on the Savannah River

Near the close of a spring day in 1776, Mr. William Bartram, who, at the request of Dr. Fothergill, of London, had been for some time studying the flora of Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, forded Broad River just above its confluence with the Savannah, and became the guest of the commanding officer at Fort James. This fort was situated on an eminence in the forks of the Savannah and Broad, equidistant from those rivers, and from the extreme point of land formed by their union. Fort Charlotte was located about a mile below, on the left bank of the Savannah.…

Bird-Shaped Stone Tumult in Putnam County, Georgia

The existence of curious effigy-mounds in the southern counties of Wisconsin was noted by Mr. Lapham in 1836. Subsequently, Mr. Taylor, Professor Locke, and Messrs. Squier and Davis furnished additional information in regard to the distinctive characteristics of these unusual structures. It was reserved, however, for the Smithsonian Institution, in the seventh volume of its “Contributions,” to furnish, from the pen of Mr. Lapham, the most complete account of these interesting remains. They were quite numerous along the great Indian trail or war-path from Lake Michigan, near Milwaukee, to the Mississippi above the Prairie du Chien. Generally representing men, buffaloes,…

Ancient Tumuli on the Oconee River

About a mile and a half north of the Fontenoy Mills, in Greene County, Georgia, and located on the left bank of the Oconee River, are three tumuli surrounded by traces of extensive and long-continued inhumations. The largest (A) is situated rather more than 100 yards east of the river, and rises about 40 feet above the level of the valley. In general outline it may be described as a truncated cone. Its apex diameters, measured north and south, and east and west, were respectively, 65 and 68 feet. At the base, however, the flanks are extended in the direction…

Andrew Ayers Martin’s DNA Results

Andrew Ayers Martin (Cherokee) I would be happy to share these profiles with Dennis. I am attaching the initial analysis on my DNA done at Ancestry as well as the breakdowns done on the FTDNA results by analysis at GedMatch. The proportions of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean DNA are relatively stable. Some others not related to me whose families have traditions of being part Cherokee show similar percentages. The stable proportions are consistent with the Hardy Weinburg principle of biology. Only my uncle [kit 185473] shows detectable Amerindian DNA at 1.83%. My uncle and daughter show Red Sea [Jewish] DNA.…

Charlie Whitener’s DNA Results

Charlie Whitener (Eastern Band of Cherokees) I appreciate all your writings on southern Native Americans. My family reflects all your writings. We believed we were all northern European with a strong Cherokee heritage. My dad once lived on the reservation land in Murphy, NC But between my dad and mom and myself we reflect southern European and SE European and North Africa and Sudan and Arabia and SA and Tuscan and Italian etc. My dad has since past.   He did the National Geographic DNA test. My mom and my identical twin used the Family Tree DNA lab. However, the results…

Richard Stewart’s DNA Results

Richard Stewart (Shawnee or Cherokee Descendant) My name is Richard Stewart.  I have had several ethnicity DNA tests done, but I find myself less than satisfied with the results.  I will attempt to find other test results in my archived mail.  My first DNA test showed 8% NA but came out East Asian as is often the case. Another test showed three NA matches out of a total of 20.  Below is the last test I’ve taken.  This was done in part to determine a baseline for Melungeons.  I do not strongly identify as a Melungeon.  I was born and raised…

Jeanne Pappas DNA Results

Jeanne Pappas (Creek-Sephardic-Northern European) The family of Jeanne Pappas had always assumed that their ancestry was a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Scottish and Creek Indian.   However, what the DNA labs told her was that she had a very diverse heritage that included many DNA test indicators typical of the Iberian Peninsula and Mediterranean Basin. She appears to have substantial Sephardic Jewish heritage. There is no one in her family tree, whose last name is obviously Spanish or Sephardic Jewish. That has led her to conclude that the Jewish ancestry came through her Creek Indian ancestry.

Cindy Henderson’s DNA Results

My mother is of Irish/German and Italian ancestry. Her father is a 1st generation Italian, the family is from Abruzzo Italy. The colonial line, her mother who is partially Irish/German was from Roane, TN. Her (grandmother) father’s family is from Old Fort McDowell NC. They moved to the Tennessee area. My father’s maternal line, his mother was Black American and born NJ. Her father (my great grandfather), I don’t know his origins other than he was Black. Her mother (my great grandmother) was born in Washington DC and moved to NJ. My grandmother’s birth was the result of an extramarital…

Cherokee DNA

First, the readers should understand that if any commercial DNA lab returns tests results that state a percentage of DNA for a particular Southeastern Native American tribe, the report should be considered fraudulent. The American Society of Human Genetics has not certified any DNA test markers to be associated with a particular Southeastern American Indian tribe. ((Marks, Jonathon & Shelton, Brooks Lee, Genetic Markers- Not a Valid Test of Native Identity)) The technique for creating indigenous DNA markers is to sample a statistically reliable number of “ethnically pure” members of a tribe than average their DNA profiles. Since the people…

Melungeons

The word, Melungeon, dates at least back to the late 1700s and has several interpretations. The most obvious is that it is frontier derivation of the French word, mélange, which means “blend.”
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