Resources for Finding Native American Ancestors

Happy Native American American Heritage Month! Here are a few resources that may help you find your Native American ancestors. 

Cherokee Genealogy: The Basics by Anita Finger-Smith, an NCGS Webinar

Many people from North Carolina with traditions of Native American ancestry often assume the ancestry was Cherokee. Identifying the tribal communities residing in North Carolina, their geographic location, and their recognition status will help in channeling possible tribal affiliations.

If the indicators lean toward Cherokee ancestry, the webinar will demonstrate how Cherokee genealogical research can separate fact from fiction. Also, the webinar will introduce you to basic tribal enrollment criteria, blood quantum requirements, an the documentary evidence available to conduct Cherokee genealogical research.

Tracing Native American Family Roots by the National Indian Law Library

This guide provides links and descriptions to many websites and online resources related to tracing Native American ancestry. Topics include beginning your research, tribal genealogy resources, list of websites, specific types of records, DNA genetic testing, and books & articles. 

The Dawes Rolls

“The Dawes Rolls, also known as the “Final Rolls”, are the lists of individuals who were accepted as eligible for tribal membership in the “Five Civilized Tribes”: Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles. (It does not include those whose applications were stricken, rejected or judged as doubtful.) Those found eligible for the Final Rolls were entitled to an allotment of land, usually as a homestead.

The Rolls contain more than 101,000 names from 1898-1914 (primarily from 1899-1906).”

Learn more about the Dawes Rolls on the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

American Indian Records in the National Archives

“Among the billions of historical records housed at the National Archives throughout the country, researchers can find information relating to American Indians from as early as 1774 through the mid 1990s. The National Archives preserves and makes available the documents created by Federal agencies in the course of their daily business.”

Tracing Native Ancestry: A Guide to Responding to Inquiries

This guide is a publication of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. “NICWA receives hundreds of inquiries each year from people seeking instruction on how to confirm their Native American heritage. This article is intended for those tracing their Native ancestry and for the service providers who may encounter ancestry questions from the communities they serve.”

Native American Research and the FamilySearch Wiki RootsTech Class by Lyn Rasmussen

“The FamilySearch Research Wiki is a fantastic tool for understanding and locating Native American historical records. Learn where to find Native American histories, tribal information past and present, census records, and more—all through the Wiki.”

Discovering Native American Ancestry through DNA RootsTech Class by Ugo Alessandro Perego

“The purpose of this class is to review the scientific and anthropological evidence regarding the peopling of the Americas and the genetic markers that have been associated with their ancestry. Through Y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA testing, individuals can learn if they have ancestors that were indigenous to the American continent, regardless if they have a paper trail to demonstrate it.”

Best of luck as you continue on your genealogical journey!