Tribal Technology

By Allison Dolan Premium

You don’t have to trek to NARA or a regional branch to view all the archives’ American Indian records: You can search online through the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) <” target=”_blank”>>. ARC catalogs most of NARA’s holdings, and in some cases, links to images of actual records.

ARC indexes tens of thousands of American Indian records, including citizenship and tribal-enrollment applications submitted to the Dawes Commission; the Dawes Rolls, which listed applicants whom the commission allowed on tribal rolls; the Guion-Miller Roll and the Wallace Roll, lists of Cherokee applying for government compensation; and the Kern Clifton Roll, an 1867 tribal census of the Cherokee Nation, What’s more, NARA has actually digitized many of these documents, so you can view an image of the original record within ARC.

ARC can be finicky about search terminology, so before you start querying the database, peruse NARA’s instructions: From the ARC home page, click Search Hints for Genealogical Data in ARC. Under Native Americans, you’ll find descriptions of the available databases, along with suggested search terms. For example, if you’re looking for a Dawes Commission application, NARA recommends typing enrollment, the word and (ARC uses Boolean syntax), plus the person’s name into the keyword box: for example, enrollment and paulina jones.
If the database has information on that person, you’ll get a list of hits — just click on the title for details. When ARC has an electronic copy of a record, the results will include a Digital Copy Available link — that means you can view the card bearing your ancestor’s name.

From the April 2004 Family Tree Magazine