Indians in the 1890 Census

Prior to 1846 there was no general law for taking a census of the Indians within the United States, Thomas Jefferson in 1782 gave a careful analysis of the location of tribes and their numbers in the United States, which then comprised only the country east of the Mississippi and north of the Floridas.

It will be noticed that Mr. Jefferson made two lists: one of Indians beyond the United States of that date, part of whom were in territory which is still outside the United States, based upon the estimates of Croghan, Bouquet, and Hutchins, and a second of Indians within the limits of the, United States as bounded in 1782 based upon the estimates of the authorities above named and Dodge.


The separation of Indians from the general population in the conditions now prevailing in considerable portions of the country is exceedingly difficult and unsatisfactory. The number of persons east of the Mississippi who would suggest to an enumerator by their appearance that they have any Indian blood is very small. Enumerators would be likely to pass by many who had been identified all their lives with the localities where found, and who lived like the adjacent whites without any inquiry as to their race, entering them as native-born whites. On the other hand, certain legal and proprietary claims lead persons of very slight Indian blood connection, or even pure whites by birth, to call themselves Indians by hereditary or acquired right, and there are those of pure white blood who wish to be called Indians, in order to share in pecuniary advantages, who are ‘not acknowledged by any tribes. These Indians for revenue, as they might be called, constitute a perplexing element to the courts, to the Indian Office, to the census officers, and to everyone who attempts to deal accurately with the conditions of Indians. This is especially true in the states where those of pure Indian blood have almost or wholly disappeared in modern conditions. It is strongly emphasized in the southeast part of the United States, where the Cherokee blood is locally of consequence, and it is growing in the southwest, where some tribes have great possessions.

Indians taxed and Indians not taxed are terms that can not be rigidly interpreted, as Indian citizens, like white citizens, frequently have nothing to tax. Indians subject to tax and Indians not subject to tax might more closely express the distinction. Indians taxed have so far become assimilated in the general population that they are not exempt from tax by reason of being Indians. Indians not taxed are remnants of uncivilized tribes or bodies of Indians untaxed by reason of specific treaties or laws controlling their relation to the national government, as the Six Nations of New York and the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian territory.

The census of Indians taxed was taken as a part of the general census.

The numbers of Indians taxed shown in the report are not to be added to the general census in obtaining the true population of the United States. Indians not taxed were not included in the general census. The numbers of Indians not taxed are to be added to the general census in obtaining the true population of the United States.
It is to be constantly borne in mind that Indians living scattered among whites were counted in the general census, while Indians on reservations, under the care of the government, the Six Nations of New York and the Five Civilized Tribes of the Indian Territory, were not counted in the general census but in a special Indian census.

Persons other than Indians living among Indians and not otherwise counted were counted by the special Indian census and are to be added to the general census.

The presentation of the condition of the Indian population by states and territories keeps constantly prominent the distinction between Indians counted in the general census, presumably civilized and taxed, and Indians untaxed and not counted in the general census, and therefore part of a necessary addition to the general census in determining the true population of the country. These Indians, grouped in a general way its uncivilized, embrace some of too considerable advancement for a strict application of the term, as will appear in the details regarding the Six Nations and the Five Civilized Tribes.

The reports of crops and stock are in many cases nearly or quite the same as those published by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, as they are made up from the agency accounts. In some cases a variation will occur from returns by those estimating un-harvested crops being brought into comparison with returns of the same period and the same locality after the products were definitely known.

In connection with the statements for each state and territory is a summary of the number, if any, to be added to the results of the general census analyzed so as to show the Indians on the reservations, those in prison not otherwise counted, and persons other than Indians living with the Indians and not otherwise counted.


Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

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