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

Choctaw Homes & Women

They lived in houses made of logs, but very comfortable; not more rude or uncouth, however, than many of the whites even of the present day. Their houses consisted generally of two rooms, both of which were used for every domestic purpose cooking, eating, living and sleeping; nor was their furniture disproportionate with that of the dwelling for the sitting room, a stool or two; for the kitchen, a pot or kettle, two or three tin cups, a large and commodious wooden bowl, and a horn spoon, constituted about the ultimatum t’was all they needed, all they wanted, and with…

Choctaw’s Endurance & Music

That the fore-fathers of the present Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees and Muscogees migrated ages ago from Mexico to their ancient abodes east of the Mississippi River there can be scarcely a doubt; and that they were a branch of the Aztecs there is much in their ancient traditions and legends upon which to predicate, at least, a reasonable sup position, if not a belief. The Aztecs are regarded by some as the first of the human race that came to the North American continent, and by others as one of the oldest races of the human family upon earth, whose records…

Choctaw Traditions – The Council Fire, The Nahullo

The faces of the Choctaw and Chickasaw men of sixty years ago were as smooth as a woman’s, in fact they had no beard. Sometimes there might be seen a few tine hairs (if hairs they might be called) here and there upon the face, but they were few and far between, and extracted with a pair of small tweezers whenever discovered. Oft have I seen a Choctaw warrior standing before a mirror seeking with untiring perseverance and unwearied eyes, as he turned his face at different angles to the glass, if by chance a hair could be found lurking…

The Natchez

On February 11th, 1700, De Iberville, Bienville, Perricaul and Tonti ascended the Mississippi River as far west as the present city of Natchez. They were kindly received (so states the journalist) by the great chief, or sun, as he was termed, surrounded by six hundred of his warriors, who, according to their own account, had formerly been a great nation. On the 13th the party left Natchez and visited the villages of the Taensas, the customs and habits of who were the same as the Natchez, being evidently a branch of the latter. During their stay the sacred temple of…

The Natchez and the French

But alas for the poor Natchez! An evil day brought the pale-faces among them in the year 1716, who built the Fort Rosalie among them and in it garrisoned, as a matter of course, a body of soldiers as a protection in their intended aggressions upon and usurpations of the Indians rights; and from that day the sun of the Natchez’s happiness began to wane, but to speedily set forever in the oblivion of utter extermination. As an introduction, Cadillac, on his way up the Mississippi river to search for gold and silver, stopped at Natchez. As soon as the Indian…

Death of Cyrus Kingsbury

Early in the year 1820, an English traveler from Liverpool, named Adam Hodgson, who had heard of the Elliot mission when at home, visited the mission, though he had to turn from his main route of travel the distance of sixty miles. He, at one time on his sixty miles route, employed a Choctaw to conduct him ten or twelve miles on his new way, which he did, then received his pay and left him to finish his journey alone. Of this Choctaw guide Mr. Hodgson, as an example of noble benevolence and faithful trust, states: “After going about a…

Choctaw Traditions

It is stated of the Papagoes, ((known as the short-haired Indians of the Southwest)) that an ancient tradition of their tribe proclaims the coming of a Messiah by the name “Moctezuma.” They affirm that, in the ancient past, he lived in Casa Grande, the famous prehistoric temple on the Gila River; that his own people rebelled against him and threatened to kill him, and he fled to Mexico. But before leaving them he told them that they would experience great afflictions for many years, but eventually, at the time of their greatest need, he would return to them from the…

Important Men of the Choctaw Indians

The Choctaw Nation, from its earliest known history to the present time has, at different intervals, produced many great and good men; who, had they have had the advantages of education, would have lived upon the pages of history equally with those of earth’s illustrious great. The first of whom we have any historical account, is Tush-ka Lu-sa, (the heroic defender of Moma Bin-na, a Lodge for All corrupted first to Mobila, then to Mobile) who perished, with many thousands of his people, in that bloody tragedy of three and a half centuries ago, while de fending his ancient city against…

The Two Friends – The Red And The White

During my travels in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations in 1884, I arrived one evening the 19th of June, at the quiet and unostentatious village of Doaksville one among the first towns located in their present country when arriving from their ancient domains east of the Mississippi river, in the year 1832. It soon became a place of considerable trade; but ultimately proving to be very sickly it was nearly abandoned; and, at the time I visited it, was but a relic of the past with Ichabod as an appropriate epitaph having only one small dry goods store and eight…

Dutch Johnnie

Several Choctaw companies joined Washington’s army during our Revolutionary war, and served during the entire war; some of them were at the battle of Cowpens, under General Morgan; others, at the battle of Stony Point, under General Wayne, and others, at the battle of Tilico Plains, under General Sullivan, sent by General Green to punish the Tories and northern Cherokees (at that time the only Cherokees hostile to the Americans) for the destruction of Fort Loudon, situated on the Tennessee river in the territories then of North Carolina, whom he overtook at Tilico Plains, engaged and routed, with great loss on the part of the stories and Cherokees, also securing the women and…

Apushamatahah – A Choctaw Chief

The distinguished warrior and chief of the Choctaws, Apushamatahah, were born, as near as can be ascertained, in the year 1764. He was of the Iksa, called Kun-sha ((A reed the name of the creek along whose banks the Kun-sha Clan dwelt.)) Kunsha-a-he ((reed potato)) is the full name of the clan, which took its name from the thick reeds and wild potatoes that grew together in the marshy ground along the banks of the creek Cane and Potato creek. At an early age Apushamatahah ((For the sake of brevity the ubi is dropped)) acquired great celebrity among his people…

The Meeting of Folsom and Nittakachih

When the council, convened for the adjustment and final distribution of the annuity, adjourned in such confusion, together with the animosity manifested and openly expressed by both contending parties the one toward the other, (a similar scene never before witnessed in a Choctaw council) I feared the consequences that I was apprehensive would follow; but hoped that the conflicting opinions then agitating my people would be harmonized upon calm reflection and the adoption of wise and judicious measures. But when I ascertained that Nittakachih and Amosholihubih were truly assembling their warriors, I began to view the matter in its true…

Memoirs of the LeFlore Family

The Cravat families of Choctaws are the descendants of John Cravat, a Frenchman, who came among the Choctaws at an early day, and was adopted among them by marriage. He had two daughters by his Choctaw wife, Nancy and Rebecca, both of whom became the wives of Louis LeFlore. His Choctaw wife dying he married a Chickasaw woman, by whom he had four sons, Thomas, Jefferson, William and Charles, and one daughter, Elsie, who married- a white man by the name of Daniel Harris, and who became the parents of Col. J. D. Harris, whose first wife was Catharine Nail, the…

Memoirs of Nathaniel Folsom

I will here present to the reader the memoirs of Nathaniel Folsom the oldest of the three brothers who cast their lot in their morning” of life among” the Choctaws, and became the fathers of the Folsom House in the Choctaw Nation, as related by himself to the missionary, Rev. Cyrus Byington, June, 1823, and furnished me by his grand-daughter Czarena Folsom, now Mrs. Rabb. “I was born in North Carolina, Rowan County, May 17th, 1756. My father was born in Massachusetts or Connecticut. My mother was born in New Jersey. My parents moved to Georgia, and there my father…

Memoirs of the Durant and Crowder Families

Durant Louis Durant, a Canadian Frenchman, was the proprietor of the Durant family among the Choctaws, who came, as before stated, to the Choctaw Nation with the two brothers, Lewis and Michael LeFlore about the year 1770. He, as his friends and contemporaries, the two LeFore brothers, also selected a wife among the Choctaw forest flowers, but whose name has been lost amid the vicissitudes through which her people have passed. They had three sons, Pierre, Charles and Lewis; and two daughters, Margaret and Syllan. The father and three sons served under their renowned chief, Apushamatahah, as allies of the Americans in the Creek war of 1812. Pierre…

Memoirs of the Harkins Family

John Harkins, a white man, is the father of the Harkins family of Choctaws. His advent to the Choctaw nation was, as near as can be ascertained, about the year 1800 or soon afterwards. He was a man of high-toned principles, and contemporary with the Folsoms, Nails, Pitchlynns, LeFlores, Durants, Cravats, Crowders, and others of the long ago, who married among the Choctaws; all men, who, having cast their lot among that people made their interests their own, and sought, by every means in their power to elevate them in the scale of morality and virtue. John Harkins married a daughter of Major…

Choctaws views on God and Murder

Among every North American Indian tribe from their earliest known history down to the present, there was and is a universal belief in the existence of a God, and Supreme Being, universally known among all Indians as the Great Spirit; and with whose attributes were associated all the various manifestations of natural phenomena; and in point of due respect and true devotion to this Great Spirit their acknowledged God they as a whole today excel, and ever have excelled, the whites in their due respect and true devotion to their acknowledged God. Never was an Indian known to deny the…

Choctaws Views on the Dead

In the disposition of their dead, the ancient Choctaws practiced a strange method different from any other Nation of people, perhaps, that ever existed. After the death of a Choctaw, the corpse wrapped in a bear skin or rough kind of covering of their own manufacture, was laid out at full length upon a high scaffold erected near the house of the deceased, that it might be protected from the wild beasts of the woods and the scavengers of the air. After the body had remained upon the scaffold a sufficient time for the flesh to have nearly or entirely…

The Choctaw Ya-Yahs

There was a peculiar custom among the ancient Choctaws, prior to 1818, which, according to tradition, was as follows: For many years after the marriage of her daughter, the mother-in-law was forbidden to look upon her son-in-law. Though they might converse together, they must be hidden the one from the other by some kind of a screen, and when nothing else offered, by covering her eyes. Thus the mother-in-law was put to infinite trouble and vexation least she should make an infraction upon the strange custom; since, when traveling or in camp often without tents, they were necessarily afraid to…

Views on the Choctaw and Fables – North American Indians

The territories of the Choctaws in 1723, in which year the seat of the French government in Louisiana, then under Bienville, was definitely transferred from Natchez to New Orleans, then containing about one hundred houses and three thousand inhabitants, extended from the Mississippi River to the Black Warrior, east: and from Lake Pontchartrain to the territories of the Natchez, west, and Chickasaws, north. They possessed upwards of sixty principal towns, and could muster, as was estimated, twenty-five thousand warriors. The Choctaws called all fables Shukha Anump (hog talk) as a mark of derision and contempt. Some of their fables, handed…

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