Finding Your Native American Roots

When researching your Native American roots, the first thing you need to know is it’s much like all other genealogy research. However, I have a couple of tips specific to Native American research.

Like all genealogy research start by following the Golden Rule of genealogy — begin with yourself and work your way backward in time. Document as much as you know and interview your relatives to fill in the blanks. Consult family records like birth, death and marriage certificates and the family bible. Once  you have done as much as you can with personal records, you can begin to research with other records.

A key time period for researching records for Native Americans is between 1896 and 1906. For the Five Civilized Tribes, check the Indian Territory Censuses. Once you have traced your family back through the 1900 and 1910 Census to this time period, looking for “I”  for Indian, you can then check the special census enumeration forms and the Dawes Rolls to find out if your ancestor was registered. If you have trouble finding any of these sources, stop by the Topeka Room at the library and genealogy staff will help you.

There are different records for each tribe, so be sure to find out the process for the tribe you are researching (again, we can help). Check the state records where your family is known to have lived for an annual census of the local tribes.

The Native American Heritage Celebration at the library, Nov 17, in Marvin Auditorium s a great place to start. The Baker Genealogy Center Team and cosponsors  Shawnee County Allied Tribes and Standing Bear Inter-Tribal Brotherhood will provide an exciting afternoon of music and fun! This will be an opportunity to immerse yourself in the Native American culture. Genealogist Stephen Egbert will discuss finding Native American records. There will be music, displays and other activities to help you learn more about Native American genealogy and culture.

The library has many books to help you get started with your genealogy and to help with specific information on the various tribes and their enrollment in the Dawe’s Rolls and the Guion Rolls.

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Finally, new information is added to the internet everyday. Check the major genealogy websites to see what new items they have listed regularly. You can find out more in the Baker Genealogy Center.

Sherri Camp

Being the Genealogy Librarian at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is so much fun! As a veteran genealogist, I love teaching and sharing digital family history and genealogy techniques and helping people solve genealogy problems. My work is to promote a greater knowledge of family heritage.