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Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to do American Indian Research

This site is for missionaries at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to help patrons find information on their American Indian ancestors.



This site references a companion site:

http://nativeamericanresearch.blogspot.com

This companion site will be used as a reference throughout this site.

The following steps should be used for researching Indian ancestry:

1. Have the patron fill out a pedigree chart using Personal Ancestral File.
2. Have the patron fill out a family group sheets using PAF, especially the one for their Indian ancestor.
3. Make sure the patron has searched Ancestral File in "Classic" http://www.familysearch.org/.
4. Make sure the patron has searched Pedigree Resource File in "Classic" http://www.familysearch.org/.
5. Make sure the patron has searched Public Member Trees in Ancestry.
6. If the ancestor is alive in 1900 and in Oklahoma, search the 1900 US Census.
7. If the ancestor is one of the 5 civilized tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek or Seminole), use Footnote to search the Dawes Rolls.
8. If the ancestor is Cherokee, use the Guion Miller books and microfilms.
9. If the ancestor is not one of the 5 civilized tribes, search the Chronicles of Oklahoma.
10. For all Indians, do a place search in the "classic" Library Catalog by typing in only the name of the State and then select Native Races.
11. Treat the Indian ancestor research as you would for any ancestors by doing a place search for the county.

In demonstrating these steps, an example of George Guess will be used and the site http://nativeamericanresearch.blogspot.com/ will be used to show the results

The George Guess for this example was married to Betsy.  He was also a descendant of a famous Cherokee Indian named Sequoia (for whom Sequoia National forest was named). 

Step 1. - Have the patron fill out a pedigree chart using PAF.

If the patron already has a pedigree chart filled out in any form, use that.  The important thing is to have a pedigree chart.  This will help you and the patron.

Step 2. - Have the patron fill out family group sheets using PAF.

If the patron already has family group sheets filled out in any form, use them.  They do not need to have all the family group sheets, but they should have the main line family group sheets that lead to their Indian ancestor. This does not have to be in PAF.  It can be handwritten.  The important thing is to have the family group sheets.  This will help you and the patron.

Step 3. - Make sure the patron has searched Ancestral File in "Classic"  http://www.familysearch.org/.

This is a step that should be done for all patrons that have US ancestors.

Step 4. - Make sure the patron has searched Pedigree Resource File in "Classic" http://www.familysearch.org/

This is a step that should be done for all patrons that have US ancestors.

Step 5. - Make sure the patron has searched Public Member Trees in Ancestry.


This is a step that should be done for all patrons that have US ancestors.

Step 6. - If the ancestor is alive in 1900 and in Oklahoma, search the 1900 US Census.

The 1900 US Census is a special census for American Indians.  It is special because it will tell you what tribe they belong to and the percentage of white versus Indian blood.  There is a trick to using this census in Ancestry.  Under Residence there is a drop down box for a list of the States.  One of the States is in the list is "Indian Territory".  It is not really a State.  To see  how to do this and the results for George Guess, click here.

Step 7. - If the ancestor is one of the 5 civilized tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek or Seminole), use Footnote to search the Dawes Rolls.


The Dawes Rolls are applications that were filled out by Indians to prove that they were members of the five "civilized tribes": Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek or Seminole tribes.  They were called civilized by the United States Government. because they were forced to give in to United States Government demands and move from their lands in the East to a reservation in Oklahoma. The Dawes Rolls were done around 1900 to 1905.

If they could prove that they were of the 5 tribes, they were given land and/or money. 

These applications are wonderful.  They contain fantastic information on anywhere from 1 to 100 pages.

For an example of how to do this step-by-step using Footnote and to show the results for George Guess, click on Dawes Rolls.

Step 8. -  If the ancestor is Cherokee, use the Guion Miller books and microfilms.

If the ancestor is Cherokee (not the other 4 civilized tribes: Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek or Seminole), use the Guion Miller Rolls.  The Guion Miller Rolls were supposed to be for the Cherokee Indians that stayed in their lands in the East.  Many of them stayed in Arkansas and Alabama.  However, even Cherokee Indians that were in Oklahoma applied for them.  George Guess applied for both the Dawes Rolls and the Guion Miller Rolls.

The Guion Miller Rolls are not on-line.  You must use two books and the microfilm that are located on the 2nd Floor Reference area in the Native American Section. 

For an example of how to do this step-by-step using the 2 books and the microfilm and to show the results for George Guess, click on Guion Miller Rolls.

You should notice that there is a lot of information here that was not in the Dawes Rolls for George Guess.  You should notice that you learn the following (that was not in the Dawes Rolls):

He now has a child named High Guess.
His father's indian name.
His mother's indian name.
Where his father and mother were born.
That he was not married to Betsy Guess, but she had his child, High Guess.
The name of the Grandfather of High Guess

Step 9. - If the ancestor is not one of the 5 civilized tribes, search the Chronicles of Oklahoma.


There is a large 82 volume collection called The Chronicles of Oklahoma, by the Oklahoma Historical Society, that has information on all tribes.  In the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah, the set is located on the 3rd floor under the following call number:

976.6 B2cThere are three indexes for this set:

Index Volume 1 is for volumes 1-37 of the Chronicles
Index Volume 2 is for volumes 38-57 of the Chronicles
Index Volume 3 is for volumes 58-77 of the Chronicles

The 3 indexes are general indexes and you can look up individual names, tribal names, place names, etc.

Step 10. - For all Indians, do a place search by typing in only the name of the State and then select Native Races.

If you do this for Oklahoma, there are 419 entries.  For George Guess the following entries should be checked by the patron:

1890 census of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah District
1890 Cherokee Nation census (this can be checked on-line)
Among the Cherokees : a biographical history of the Cherokees since the removals
Applications for positions in the Tahlequah District, 1879-1901
Cherokee census rolls, 1880

The list above is only a start.  There are many more entries that could be checked.

Step 11. - Treat the Indian ancestor research as you would for any ancestors by doing a place search for the county.