Do you have American Indian ancestry? Many genealogists believe they do and want to find out for sure. Others know they do but don’t know how to research those ancestors.
Now’s a good time to look for resources: November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.
In 1915, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapaho and president of the American Indian Association, declared the second Saturday of May as American Indian Day and appealed for recognition of American Indians as citizens (Indians were recognized as citizens in 1924).
Later that year, on Dec. 14, Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, arrived at the White House with 24 state government endorsements for a national day to honor American Indians. (Here’s a photo from the Library of Congress.) He’d gathered them riding on horseback from state to state.
The first National American Indian Heritage Month was in 1990. (More on national observances here.)
Here are some free FamilyTreeMagazine.com articles to help you trace American Indian roots:
- American Indian genealogy websites
- Research tips for tracing Cherokee roots
- Researching Cherokee who weren’t removed from their lands
- American Indian online photo collections
- American indian genealogy books
- Family Tree Magazine Podcast: October 2009 episode with expert advice on researching American Indian roots
Family Tree Shop resources include:
- American Indian Genealogy Guide Digital Download
- The Historical Atlas of Native Americans
- State research guides for Oklahoma, Alaska and other states where your American Indian ancestors lived.
Some of our favorite websites for American Indian research are:
- Access Genealogy: Lots of free records and articles for tribes across the country.
- National Archvies and Records Administration: Native American Research: Not many records are online, but you’ll learn what records the archives has, see finding aids for Bureau of Indian Affairs records, and find articles to help you plan your research.
You’ll also find indexes to the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory, March 4, 1907 (known as the Dawes Roll) and Applications Submitted for the Eastern Cherokee Roll of 1909 (the Guion-Miller Roll).
- University of Oklahoma Indian-Pioneer Papers Oral History Collection: Search the index to this collection by personal name, place name, or subject. Typescripts of interviews about the settlement of Oklahoma and Indian territories, as well as the condition and conduct of life there, cover the time period from 1861 to 1936.
- ITGenWeb: This USGenWeb project site contains information on researching tribes that were removed to Indian Territory, located in what’s now Oklahoma.
- Oklahoma Historical Society American Indian Archives: The OHS archives have records for tribes in Indian and Oklahoma territories.
- The Kansas Historical Society has digitized papers and a partial index of correspondence from William Clark and later agents’ tenure as Superintendent, US Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency, St. Louis (most of the collection dates from the early to mid-1800s).