American Indian Genealogy Websites

By Jamie Anne Royce Premium

Tracing your American Indian ancestors can be tricky. Tribes rarely kept written records, Americanized names often usurped traditional ones, and light-skinned American Indians may have been documented as white. Most records, such as the Dawes Rolls, stem from tribal removals, land grants and other attempts to assimilate Indians. These records mostly cover the Five Civilized Tribes — the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole — during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But proving your tribal ties isn’t impossible; you just need to know where to look. Use these websites to search Indian census schedules, removal rolls, photos, land records and more.

Access Genealogy

  • Price: free
  • Content: Search indexes to many removal rolls, including the Trail of Tears Roll, and databases of hard-to-find records, as well as read a beginner’s guide to American Indian genealogy.
  • Tips: See the guide to understanding the Dawes Rolls.

Cyndi’s List

  • Price: free
  • Content: Explore hundreds of links to Indian censuses, cemetery records, tribal mailing lists, vital records and gazetteers.
  • Tips: See the General Resource Sites list for links to specific tribal research guides.

Denver Public Library History of the American West

  • Price: free
  • Content: A collection of 30,000 images, taken from 1860 to 1920, illustrates the lives of American Indians from more than 40 tribes living west of the Mississippi River.
  • Tips: Use the name index to search the collection for a photo of an ancestor.

  • Price: $79.95 per year
  • Content: Search or browse images of 77,000 Dawes enrollment cards and 883,000 Dawes packets, as well as ratified Indian treaties and Indian census rolls, 1885 to 1940.
  • Tips: Use Footnote Pages to share and find information about specific tribes.

National Archives and Records Administration

  • Price: index search is free; $15 for up to 20 photocopied pages
  • Content: Dawes Rolls database includes more than 100,000 names of people in the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898 to 1914. An index search reveals blood degree and census card number, to order additional records.
  • Tips: If you don’t know an ancestor’s tribe, use the 1900 census. The ancestor may be in Indian schedules or living near, but not with, his tribe.

Oklahoma Historical Society

  • Price: free index search; copies of original records cost $10 to $30
  • Content: Search the 1890 Oklahoma territorial census, applications for enrollment in the Five Civilized Tribes, land lottery records, Smith’s First Directory of Oklahoma and school reports from Dawes Commission records.
  • Tips: Last names listed in all capital letters denote residents of Indian territory in Smith’s First Directory of Oklahoma.


  • Price: free
  • Content: Get help from tribe-specific mailing lists, message boards, databases, records and research guides.
  • Tips: Search 28,543 tribal enrollment records with heritage proof of American Indian blood.

From the November 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine