Native American Research


Native American Research

Researching your Native American heritage is a wonderful, yet tedious journey.

Quick Tips for researching:

  • Know your tribe! Without knowing what tribe your ancestor was in, it is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
  • Family records are invaluable in any genealogy research. But look for your native american heritage on the state level, not the federal.
  • Descendants of the 5 civilized tribes are counted as tribal members if they are listed on the Dawes Rolls.
  • Official membership is not conveyed to tribes that disbanded before the US government formed in 1789.

THE FIRST PLACE TO START-- The first place to start is by starting with you and your immediate family. Put all the information that you have on a family group sheet. Once you have done this, move to step two.

SECONDLY-- Branch out. Take your information and start branching it out using a pedigree chart. Fill in as much information as you can. Once you can't fill out anymore, do the research to find out the other information.

USING INDIAN RECORDS-- When you reach the ancestor who is said to be Indian, you will have enough information on parents, descendants and siblings to begin looking for the family in Indian records. At that point, you will need to have a general idea of which tribe(s) to search for your ancestor. Knowing some of the history of the tribes in the area where your ancestor was born will help in making that decision.

Once you've established which tribe(s) your ancestor may have belonged to, you will need to learn which records are available for that tribe or tribes. One of the places to search for records is the National Archives microfilm collection. They have an extensive collection of microfilmed records of reservation censuses, payment records, school records, BIA agent reports and other records and documents pertaining to American Indians. A catalog of Native American records on microfilm can be ordered by calling 1-800-234-8861. The catalogs are also online at National Archives & Records Administration. In addition, the National Archives has a searchable database of records online at. Although this database is incomplete, they are adding more information on a regular basis.

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