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

Aboha Kullo Humma

Aboha Kullo Humma, (pro. Ar-bo-hah ) (House; Kullo (strong) Humma (red) or, in our phraseology (Strong red house but in the Choctaw, Red Fort) was the chief of Okla Hunnali. The clans of the Choctaws were all perpetuated in the female line. When a man married, he was adopted into the family of his wife, and her brothers had more authority over her children than her husband; therefore, when a lover wished to marry a girl, he consulted her uncles, and if they consent to the marriage, the father and mother approved. Those of the same clan were never allowed to intermarry. A…

Memoirs of John Pitchlynn

John Pitchlynn, the name of another white man who at an early day cast his lot among the Choctaws, not to be a curse but a true benefactor. He was contemporaneous with the three Folsom’s, Nathaniel, Ebenezer and Edmond; the three Nails, Henry, Adam and Edwin; the two Le Flores Lewis and Mitchel, and Lewis Durant. John Pitchlynn, as the others, married a Choctaw girl and thus become a bona-fide citizen of the Choctaw Nation. He was commissioned by Washington, as United States Interpreter for the Choctaws in 1786, in which capacity he served them long and faithfully. Whether he…

An Historical Sketch of the Tionontates or Dinondadies, now called Wyandots

The tribe which, from the time of Washington’s visit to the Ohio, in 1753, down to their removal to the West, played so important a part under the name of Wyandots, but who were previously known by a name which French write Tionontates; and Dutch, Dinondadies, have a history not uneventful, and worthy of being traced clearly to distinguish them from the Hurons or Wyandots proper, of whom they absorbed one remnant, leaving what were later only a few families near Quebec, to represent the more powerful nation.

Choctaw Doctors & Diseases

Among the ancient Choctaws, a mare and colt, cow and calf, and a sow and pigs were given to each child at its birth, if the parents were able so to do, and all, with few exceptions, were able; this stock, with its increase under no circumstances whatever, could be disposed of in any way; and when he or she, as the case might be, became grown, the whole amount was formally conveyed over to him or her. Thus when a young couple started out in life they had a plenty of stock, if nothing more. Diseases, they believed, originated…

Missionaries among the Native Americans

According to traditional authority, the morning star of the Choctaws religious era, (if such it may be termed) first lit up their eastern horizon, upon the advent of the two great Wesley’s into the now State of Georgia in the year 1733, as the worthy and congenial companions of the noble Oglethorpe; but also, it flashed but a moment before their eyes as a beautiful meteor, then as quickly went out upon the return to England of those champions of the Cross, leaving them only to fruitless conjecture as to its import; nor was seen again during the revolutions of…

The Choctaw Life & Warrior

Many of the ancient Choctaws were a dept in the art of singing their native airs, of which they had many; but all effort to induce one of them to sing alone one of his favorite songs was fruitless. They invariably replied to the solicitation in broken English, “Him no good.” Then sing me a war song. “Him heap no good,” with an ominous shake of the head. Then sing me a hunting song. “No good; he no fit for pale face. “Well, sing me a love song. “Wah”! (an ancient. exclamation of surprise now obsolete) much love song, him bad, no…

Tunapinachuffa

The first conversion among the full blooded Choctaws was that of an aged man, who lived near Col. David Folsom, chief of the Choctaws, named Tun-a pin a-chuf-fa, (Our one weaver) hitherto as ignorant of the principles of the religion of Jesus Christ as it is possible to conceive. He manifested an interest in the subject of religion about six months before any other of his people in the neighborhood, and soon began to speak publicly in religious meetings, and gave evidence, by his daily walk and conversation, of a happy and glorious change, to the astonishment of his people, who…

The Native American History of Levy County Florida

An overview of the Native American History of Levy County Florida from the earliest cultural periods: looking at the Levy County area during each of the Native American cultural periods up until the final Seminole surrender. Richard also discusses the Cedar Key Shell Mounds, found within Levy County, providing a brief view of the archeological findings.

Choctaw Nation and the Greer County Dispute

The Dispute In The Right Of Ownership Of Greer County Between The United States And Texas. The petition of the Attorney General of the United States affirms that according to the treaty of Feb. 22, 1819 made by the United States and the King of Spain, which was ratified two years later, and so proclaimed by both the United States and Spain, and that by the third article of the treaty it was provided and agreed that the boundary line between the two countries west of the Mississippi River shall begin on the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of…

Indian Wampums

The Indians, having no written language, preserved and handed down their history to future generations through tradition, much of which could have been obtained a century and a half ago, and even a century ago, which was authentic and would have added much to the interest of the history of the continent of which we boast as our inheritance, though obtained by the extermination of a race of people whose wonderful history, had it been obtained as it once could have been, would have been very interesting and beneficial to future generations, throwing its light back over ages unknown, connecting…

Choctaw Migration and Government

The name Choctaw, or Chahtah is, derived from a prophet warrior who flourished at a time too remote for fixing any date, as it is only handed down by tradition from one generation to another. “Headed by him, tradition informs us, the people in one grand division migrated to the East from a country far toward the setting sun, following the Cherokees and Muscogees, who had moved on, four years previous, in search of a suitable spot for a permanent location. He is said to have been possessed of all the characteristics essential to the carrying out of such an…

Choctaw Tradition of the Flood

The tradition, as related by wise men of the Choctaw Nation, about the flood, is as follows: A long continued night came upon the land, which created no small degree of fear and uneasiness among the people. Their fears were increased at seeing the terrible buffaloes, and the fleet deer making their appearance, and after them the bears and panthers, wolves, and others approaching their habitations; suspicious at first of their intentions, they thought of placing themselves beyond the reach of the more dangerous animals, but instead of exhibiting any disposition of ferocity, they seemed rather to claim protection at…

Ancient Choctaw Courtship

When the young Choctaw beau went the first time to see his Fair One, after having resolved upon matrimony, he tested his own standing in the estimation of his anticipated bride by indifferently walking into the room where she is seated with the rest of the family, and, during the general conversation, he sought and soon found an opportunity to shoot, slyly and unobserved, a little stick or small pebble at her. She soon ascertained the source whence they came, and fully comprehended the signification of those little messengers of love. If approved, she returned them as slyly and silently…

Choctaw Mesmerism, Eclipses, and Dances

Mesmerism was known among the Choctaw, though they regarded it with wonder and dread, and it was looked upon as injurious and hurtful in its results; while those who practiced this curious art had often to pay very dearly for it, for they were frequently put to death. Ventriloquism has also been found among them, and used solely for vain, selfish and evil designs, but to the great danger of the life of the person practicing it, for the Choctaws believe that whatever appears supernatural, is suspicious and likely at any time to be turned to evil purposes. Eclipses Black…

Family of Peter Folsom

The following is from the pen of a missionary who has long labored among the Choctaws and knew of what he spoke, and is sufficient testimony of the moral worth of him of whom he wrote: “Choctaw Nation, April 9, 1885. “Dear Brother Murrow: I write you a sad letter. Our old Brother Peter Folsom is dead. He was taken sick the first day of April, and has been growing worse ever since. He died today. I am writing by his beloved body. His spirit is in heaven. I can write no more. Please publish his death in the Champion that…

Biographical Sketch of Judge Loring Folsom

Judge Loring Folsom, now the only surviving child of Colonel David Folsom and his first wife, Rhoda Nail, was long one of the leading men of the Choctaw Nation, but retired from the political arena several years ago, and has ever since been living in peace and quiet on his farm one and a half miles south of the town of Caddo, which took its name from a tribe of Indians whom the Choctaws defeated in battle on a group of high hills at the base of which Judge Loring Folsom now lives. This was the last battle in which…

Choctaw Religion

Choctaw religion never worshiped idols, or any works of their own hands, as other Indian nations. They believed in the existence of a Great Spirit, and that He possessed super-natural power, and was omnipresent, but they did not deem that He expected or required any form of worship of them.

Choctaw Law Forbidding White-Indian Marriage

Of the Choctaws regulating the marriage of white men to the Choctaw women: Whereas, the Choctaw Nation is being filled up with white persons of worthless characters by so-called marriages to the great injury of the Choctaw people. Section 1st. Be it enacted by the General Council of the Choctaw Nation assembled: That the peace and prosperity of the Choctaw people require that any white man or citizen of the United States, or of any foreign government, desiring to marry a Choctaw woman, citizen of the Choctaw Nation, shall be and is hereby required to obtain a license for the…

Rood Creek Mounds

Rood Creek Mounds (also known as Roods Creek Mounds) is a very large Native American town site in southwestern Georgia that is immediately east of the Chattahoochee River in Stewart County. It was one of the largest Native American towns in the eastern United States. The original palisade enclosed about 120 acres and eight mounds. The final palisade enclosed at least eight mounds and 150 acres.   The archaeological zone is now within Rood Landing Recreation Area, a US Army Corps of Engineers facility on Lake Eufaula. Relatively little is known about this archaeological zone. Four mounds (A, B, D and…

Mound Builders

The types of the human skulls taken from those ancient mounds said to have been erected by a prehistoric race, and now called “Mound Builders” a race claimed to be far superior to our Indians are characteristic, not only of the ancient Mexicans, Peruvians and other ancient tribes of South America, but also of the ancient Natchez, Muskogee’s, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, Seminoles, Yamases and others of the North American continent. And it is a conceded fact that all Indians ever found in North and South America possess many common features. I have seen the native Indians of Mexico, Arizona and…

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