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 Indian Mounds

I read the following in the American Antiquarian over the signature of H. F. Buckner: “Mr. Maxwell, in a historical address, says: My conviction is that the high grade of military skill displayed by the Mound Builders at Carthage, Alabama, attests a know ledge of the necessities of attack and defense unknown to the mode of warfare practiced by the tribes found here by De Soto.” Mr. Maxwell does not state in what respect the high grade of military engineering skill displayed by the Mound Builders at Carthage, Alabama, attests a knowledge of the necessities of attack and defense unknown…

Indian Mounds throughout North America

Charlevoix and Tantiboth speak of Indians who inhabited the region of country around Lake Michigan, who were well skilled in the art of erecting mounds and fortifications, Charlevoix also states that the Wyandots and the Six Nations disinterred their dead and took the bones from their graves where they had lain for several years and carried them to a large pit previously prepared, in which they deposited them, with the property of the deceased, filling up the pit with earth and erected a mound over it. A string of sleigh-bells much corroded, but still capable of tinkling, is said to have been found among the…

Indian Mounds in Natchez, Mississippi

On the 18th of May 1838, a party of literary and scientific gentlemen from Natchez, Mississippi, examined two square mounds three and a half miles below the city, between the bluff and the river, about a mile from the river and one-eighth of a mile from the bluff, rising from 11 to 16 feet above the level upon which they are based. The two mounds stood about 500 feet apart, ranging north and south of each other, the larger being 66 feet square, and 16 feet high, and the other 33 feet square and 11 feet high. An excavation was made…

Castine Indian Mounds

In visiting the “Castine Mounds,” near the Cahokia creek, in Illinois, a writer says: “After a drive of an hour and a half the second group of eminences, known as the Castine Mounds, appeared upon the prairie at a distance of three or four miles; the celebrated Monk Hill, the largest monument of the kind yet discovered in North America, heaving up its giant form, forest clothed from in the midst; as it is first beheld, surrounded by the lesser heaps, it is mistaken by the traveler for an elevation of natural origin; as he draws nigh, and at length…

The Creation of an Indian Mound

Garcellasso de la Vega, says, in laying off the ground for a town, the first thing that the Indians did, was the erection of a mound, upon the top of which the houses of the chief and his family and attendants were built; and at the base a large square was laid off, around which the principal warriors built their houses, while the common people placed theirs on the opposite side of the mound from the square. All the early explorers repeatedly state that they saw the mounds in all parts of the country through which they passed. Here then…

Choctaw Culture

The Choctaws, like all of their race, had no written laws, and their government rested alone on custom and usage, growing out of their possessions and their wants; yet was conducted so harmoniously by the influence of their native genius and experience, that one would hardly believe that human society could be maintained with so little artifice. As they had no money, their traffic consisted alone in mutual exchange of all commodities; as there was no employment of others for hire, there were no contracts, hence judges and lawyers, sheriffs and jails were unknown among them. There were no beg gars,…

Choctaw Warpath & Dress

There were many natural orators among the ancient Choctaws when living in undisturbed prosperity and happiness east of the Mississippi River. Their orations were very concise, animating and abounding in many beautiful metaphors; and who, had they possessed the embellishments of a refined education, would have compared well with any race of mankind that ever existed. The Choctaws, like all their race, deliberated with great dignity and solemnity on national affairs; and in all their assemblies, both, national and social, everything was carried on in the best order and unassumed decorum. Their treaties were ratified by smoking the pipe of peace an…

Choctaw Beliefs About the Sun and Moon

To the unlettered and untutored mind of man through out the world, all things are endowed with individuality and life; from which arose, no doubt, the great number of mystic conceptions, regarding the sun, moon, stars, clouds, winds and storms, as being animate bodies, possessing life as all animate creatures. The traditions of some of the North American Indian tribes are said to state, that the sun was once caught in a snare by a great hunter, and was set free by the moles, but at the loss of their eyes from its intense light, and have ever since been…

The Choctaw Rainmaker

The Choctaws had several classes of dignitaries among them who were held in the highest reverence: The Medicine Man or Prophet, the Rain Maker, the Doctor a veritable chip of Esculapius. Well indeed did each fill his allotted position in life, and faithfully discharge the mystic duties appertaining thereunto, both in their own opinion as well as that of their people. The Choctaws Materia Medica, like all their race, was Nature, herbs and roots furnishing their remedies both externally and internally; and the success with which they used those remedies proved their knowledge of the healing properties of the various…

The Story of Hohtak Lahba and his Choctaw Mother

Their laws (for they had laws,) though exceptional in some respects to the White Race, nevertheless, were good, and quite consistent with the nations of a primitive age. But like all others of their race, their severest law was that of blood revenge. Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed was a statute rigidly enforced among all North American Indians. It was acknowledged among all, not only to be the right, but also the imperative duty of the nearest relative on the male side of the slain, to kill the slayer wherever and whenever a favorable…

Charles Montezuma

There always have existed among the North American Indians, and still exist, many examples of intellectual ability, of genius, of high moral feeling and as noble and pure patriotism as was ever found in any nation of people and as proof of this fact I relate the following: Some twenty-five years ago a photographer of Chicago, being in Arizona on a vacation trip, found and rescued from an Apache camp an abandoned Indian male infant of full blood. The photographer became possessed with a desire to take the boy home with him and adopt him. In spite of warnings that the…

Mohawk Warrior Uncas

Who that has read Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans,” but remembers Uncas, the young Mohawk warrior, and jointly with that of his white friend Leather Stocking, the hero of the story? It is said his Indian name was Tschoop; but if it is corrupted as badly as all other Indians names when put in print by the whites, it is as foreign from his true name as that by which he figured in the “Last of the Mohicans.” However, he has been handed down as a noted warrior among his people the once powerful and warlike Mohawks who inhabited the now…

Mr. Cushman and the Choctaw’s

Curiosity was one of the chief characteristics of the Choctaws, and held a prominent position in their breasts. They were desirous to know everything peculiar or strange that was transpiring about them; not more so, however, than any others of the human race. Yet the Choctaw differed from his white brother in this particular; the white man expressed openly his curiosity at anything unusual or strange, and asked innumerable questions concerning it, and manifested the greatest excitement until his curiosity was gratified; but the Choctaw asked no questions, nor manifested any surprise whatever, no matter how strange or incomprehensible to him,…

Choctaw War Against the Osage and other Legends

There were many traditions among all North American Indians, many of which bordered on the poetical and from which I will select one or two more, which shall suffice as examples of a few of the peculiarities of this peculiar yet interesting people. Thus says the tradition of “Ohoyo Osh Chisba,” (The Unknown Woman.) In the days of many moons ago, two Choctaw hunters were encamped for the night in the swamps of the bend of the Alabama River. But the scene was not without its romance. Dark, wild, and unlovely as a swamp is generally imagined to be, yet…

Comanche County Oklahoma Cemeteries

Most of these Comanche County Oklahoma cemeteries are complete indices at the time of transcription, however, in some cases we provide the listing when it is only a partial listing. Hosted at Comanche County OKGenWeb Archives Highland Cemetery Photos Letitia Cemetery Meers Cemetery Sterling Cemetery Hosted at Oklahoma Genealogical Society Elgin Cemetery Geronimo Cemetery Letitia Cemetery Meers Cemetery Paradise Valley Baptist Cemetery Hosted at Comanche County OKGenWeb Allendale Cemetery Bailtso Apache Cemetery Beef Creek Apache Cemetery – Geronimo’s grave is located here Cache Cemetery Cache KCA Cemetery Chattanooga Cemetery Chief Chihuahua Apache Cemetery – Fort Sill Crouch Cemetery Crow Family…

Cleveland County Oklahoma Cemeteries

Most of these Cleveland County Oklahoma cemeteries are complete indices at the time of transcription, however, in some cases we provide the listing when it is only a partial listing. Hosted at Cleveland County OKGenWeb Archives Blackburn Cemetery Box Cemetery Corbett Cemetery Corbett Cemetery Tombstone Photos Denton Cemetery Denver Cemetery Falls Cemetery Knoles Cemetery Tombstone of Martin V B Knoles Maguire-Fairview Cemetery Schwartz Cemetery Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery U.G./Kear Memorial Cemetery Warren Cemetery Cemetery Hosted at Oklahoma Genealogical Society Indian Graves Hosted at GenRoots Emmanual Memorial Cemetery – South OKC IOOF Cemetery – Noble IOOF Cemetery – Norman Moore Cemetery Resthaven…

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