Finding Native American Indian Ancestors

Finding Native American Indian Ancestors

January 22, 2018

Vicki’s note – The following is a collection of  on-line  sites I found that may help you find Native American Indian Ancestors.

The Dawes Commission was organized in 1893 to accept applications for tribal enrollment between 1899 and 1907 from Native American Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes who resided in the Indian Territory, which later became the eastern portion of Oklahoma.

The Five Civilized Tribes consist of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole and Chickasaw Indians.

There are several places to get access to the Dawes rolls (and other United States Federal Special Censuses) to see if your ancestor is listed:

The information is quoted from the sites:

Fold3 by Ancestry – The Dawes Rolls


Tulsa Oklahoma Public Library:

Locating American Indian ancestors may be possible if they were members of one of the Five Civilized Tribes living in Oklahoma. These tribes developed a relationship with the United States government long before other tribes. Because of this long-standing relationship, tribal records exist for most of the 19th century. These records are available and can be used to discover and document American Indian ancestors.

The Five Civilized Tribes consist of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole tribes. These tribes were removed to Oklahoma in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s from their homelands in the southeastern United States. Each tribe was given land in what was then known as Indian Territory.

Rolls were taken from the time of arrival in Oklahoma, and some pre-removal rolls exist. Rolls will vary by tribe and date, and the information on each roll varies depending on the reason the roll was taken. Some rolls are only lists of names.

Between 1898-1906, the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes were taken to determine individuals who qualified for membership in the tribes. This roll is what is used today to determine tribal enrollment.

The Genealogy Center has tribal records of the Five Civilized Tribes dating from the 1850’s to around 1910’s. This microfilmed collection of materials is generated by the tribal governments. Included are census records, accounts of legislative sessions, court dockets, correspondence, election records, treasurer’s records, materials relating to land allotment and leases and school records. The records are not indexed, but each film rolls has a description.

To be on the Final Rolls, or Dawes Rolls, your ancestor had to be living continuously with the tribe in Oklahoma. The first step is to determine the name of an ancestor who was living in Indian Territory between 1898-1906 and who will be on the 1900 federal census. Knowing the approximate age of the ancestor at that time the roll was taken and the names of any family members (parents, children, spouses) who may have been listed with them will be helpful in verifying the correct family on the rolls. If you are not sure of the age of your ancestor or other names of family members, you may need to acquire more information from other family members, or find a later family member on the 1930 or 1940 federal census and trace backwards to the 1900 from there.

Next, you need to find your ancester on the 1900 federal census for Indian Territory. As part of the questionaire asked by the census taker, the race of your ancester will be noted in one of the columns. If your ancestor is listed as “white” or “w,” then it is unlikely they will be enrolled in the Final Rolls. Once you have verified your ancestor as non-white and living in Oklahoma in 1900, you will use the Final Dawes Rolls Index to find their census card number, or CC#. You may search by your ancestors name, and the index will provide you with the tribe, blood, and CC# along with other relevant information. The “blood” section will be members with Indian blood. The “minor” and “newborn” sections are names of children who enrolled. The “by marriage” section will be the names of whites who were married to tribal members and the “freedmen” will be the names of the former slave families who were adopted into the tribes. Be sure to check the age of the person listed in the results of your search to verify it is the correct person. You may also see what other family members were listed on the card with your ancestor.

Now you are ready to look up your ancestor’s enrollment card and application packet (for all tribes except Creek) in our Fold3 database (only available at the Genealogy Center). Under “Native American Archives” browse the Dawes Enrollment Cards or Dawes Packets (you will search both the same way). Select your ancestor’s tribe, their group (noted under “Tribe & Enrollment” in the index), card number, and then name. The census cards were the enrollment cards that were filled out for each family member who enrolled. Besides names of other family members, census cards contain the name of the father and mother of each individual, the former slave owner’s name of the freedmen families, the place of residence of the family and earlier rolls that the family was listed on. These census cards may also help connect to earlier rolls of the tribe.

The information on the census card was taken from the application made by each enrollee. Applications exist for both accepted and rejected applicants. These packets usually include a transcript of the interview with the enrollee, which can provide interesting and useful information about your ancestors.

NARA – National Archives


US Census Rolls recorded between 1817-1924

(East of the Mississippi River)

  • 1817 Reservations Rolls – Cherokees wanting a 640 acre tract in the East.
  • 1817-1835 Emigration Rolls – Cherokees whom filed to emigrate to Arkansas.
  • 1835 Henderson Roll – Cherokee Census for ALA, GA, TN, NC.
  • 1848 Mullay Roll – Census for NC Cherokee remaining after removal.
  • 1851 Siler Roll – Eastern Cherokee Payment Roll.
  • 1852 Chapman Roll – Payment Roll based on Siler Roll.
  • 1869 Swetland Roll – Authorizition of Payment for NC Cherokee
  • 1883 Hester Roll – Eastern Cherokee Roll.
  • 1908 Churchill Roll – Eastern Band Cherokee (Rejections etc.)
  • 1909 Guion Miller East Roll – Eastern Cherokee Roll.
  • 1924 Baker Roll – Current Membership Roll for Eastern Cherokee.


US Census Rolls recorded between 1851-1909

 (West of the Mississippi River)

  • 1851 Old Settlers Rolls – Cherokee Old Settlers living West prior to 1839.
  • 1852 Drennan Roll – First Census after Trail of Tears.
  • 1898-1914 Dawes Roll – Final Allotment Rolls.
  • 1909 Guion Miller Roll – Entitlement Rolls for Allotments.

*Lookups are available for Dawes Roll “Plus” of 1898. These records contain the roll number, Miller Roll application number, ages & relationships. These are the final roll records for Cherokee Nation Citizens of Cherokee Blood.

**We also offer lookups in Guion Miller Roll “Plus” of 1909. These records contain information for those Cherokee on both Dawes & Miller Rolls, this includes applicants accepted and NOT ACCEPTED for claims against the federal government for treaty violations. These records are very valuable and include: Dawes Roll Number, Census Card Number, Degree of Cherokee Blood for each applicant and surname information.

When requesting a lookup please be specific on what names and records you desire a lookup on, and I will see what I can find. The Cherokee records are part of my private collection in my personal library, I do not obtain this information on-line so please don’t write asking where on the internet I obtained my information.

Note: Please use the above search box provided for the Dawes Rolls to confirm an individual is present. For Guion Miller Rolls you may now search them on-line at the National Archives & Records Administration.

Order Copies

The Research Center offers Dawes enrollment packets for a flat fee of $35. We also offer Dawes allotment packets for $35. Be certain to include the information listed in the index, including the individual’s name, census card number, roll number, and tribe. To order by mail use the printable order form or call 405-522-5225 and please have your credit card ready.

The Oklahoma Historical Society collections include the Dawes census cards and enrollment packets, if available. Census cards list information about the enrollee, and may include information about their family members.

Enrollment packets may provide further details about the individual and their family, including marriage, birth, and death information. Allotment packets contain information about the individual’s land allotment, plat maps, correspondence, and other documents. Enrollment and allotment packets vary in length from a single page to more than 100 pages.

About the Dawes Rolls

Officially known as The Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory, the Dawes Rolls list individuals who applied and were approved for membership in the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.) Enrollment for the Dawes Rolls began in 1898 and ended in 1906.

What kind of information will I find on the Dawes Rolls?

The rolls list the individual’s name, age, sex, blood degree, census card number and page, enrollment number, and tribe.

In most cases the ages indicated on the rolls are the age of individuals around 1902. Those listed as “newborns” and “minors” were born after the initial enrollment began in 1898, but before March of 1907.

Tribal association will be listed as “By Blood,” “Intermarriage,” or “Freedmen.” Intermarriage indicates the person was married to a citizen of the tribe. You may also see the letters “I W” for Intermarried White. Freedmen were the former slaves of the Five Civilized Tribes and their descendants.

What information do I need before I search?

Basic information includes the name of a person who was alive and living in the Indian Territory during the enrollment period. If the individual was a married woman, you should look for her under her married name.

I cannot locate my ancestor in the index. What should I do now?

Look for your ancestor on the 1900 US census. If your ancestor did not live in Indian Territory it is extremely unlikely they will be on the rolls. If they were living in Indian Territory check the available lists for rejected Dawes applications. Consider the possibility your ancestor belonged to another tribe or preferred not to be recognized as Indian.

For further information about tribal citizenship, contact the tribe directly.

Oklahoma History Center | 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73105 | 405-521-2491

One thought on “Finding Native American Indian Ancestors”

  1. Comment from John Wasserstrass – “Pat and I toured the Dawes house in Evanston (WI) (they also have a Dawes Elem. school there). I presume the same person (he was US VP and at the Paris peace conference 1919)”.

    From Wikipedia:

    “The Evanston Dawes is Charles G. Dawes (August 27, 1865 – April 23, 1951) was an American banker, general, diplomat, and Republican politician who was the 30th Vice President of the United States from 1925 to 1929. For his work on the Dawes Plan for World War I reparations, he was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925.”

    “The Charles Gates Dawes House is a historic house museum at 225 Greenwood Street in Evanston, Illinois. Built in 1894, this Chateauesque lakefront mansion was from 1909 until his death the home of Charles Gates Dawes (1865-1951) and his family.”

    I could find no connection to the Dawes Commission Dawes who is:

    “Henry Laurens Dawes (October 30, 1816 – February 5, 1903) was a (Massachusetts) Republican United States Senator and United States Representative, notable for the Dawes Act, intended to stimulate assimilation of Indians by ending tribal government and control of communal lands.”

    But beautiful house in Evanston. I will put it on my list of places to visit.

    Vicki Ruthe Hahn
    January 23, 2018


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