5 Steps to Native American Genealogy

  1. Learn as much as you can about your family. Get all dates and places possible. At this point, you should be doing "normal" genealogy. It is very important to pay special attention to locations. It is also very important to note collateral lines. When checking census, pay close attention to indication of race. With our Indian ancestors, they are often listed as different races on different census records. They could be listed as white one year, black or mulatto at a different time.

  2. Find out what nation they could have belonged to. Use maps to find out what tribes were in the area that they came from. Find out if that tribe was moved to another location by the government. Did they move as well or were they separated from the tribe?

  3. Check the 1900 Indian Census. This is available through your local family history center and at the National Archives.

  4. Search tribal rolls to obtain history on the tribe. It is very important to note what was going on in a tribe as well as state and federal happenings. This is very important to know so you can get ideas of what could have cause a large number of deaths during a period. Were they fighting another tribe or the Federal Government? Was there a tribal epidemic?

  5. Find out how to contact the Nation. If you choose to enroll in the tribes, you need to know what their rules are for enrollment and what proof you need. With the Five Civilized tribes, you need to be a direct descendant from someone on the Dawes Rolls. You need to also have birth or death certificates for proof. Other tribes have different requirements -- some have blood quantum (degrees) requirements.

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