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African American Genealogy: Native American Genealogy

Native American Children--Missouri Boarding School Abuse

The report referenced in the PBS News Hour story, and information about the initiative behind the report, can be found below.

The State Historical Society of Missouri

When it became a state in 1821, Missouri had a Native American population estimated at around 20,000. Native peoples within the state included the Kickapoo, Shawnee, Ioway, Otoe, Delaware, and Osage. Most of these nations had been driven to Missouri from the east by growing numbers of white inhabitants. The territory of the Osage, the most powerful tribe, included land in present-day Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. But in an 1808 treaty the Osage had given up most of their land in southern Missouri Territory, believing the treaty permitted them to continue hunting and fishing in this region.

By the 1830s most Native Americans had been pushed out of Missouri. Many tribes passed through the state on their way west to the Indian Territory during the forced relocations of the 1830s, including the Cherokees on their tragic journey along the Trail of Tears.

The State Historical Society of Missouri has a variety of resources about Native Americans in Missouri. Learn more...


Free and open to anyone, History Hub connects researchers, academics, genealogists, historians, and the public with archivists, librarians, and other community experts to identify sources and find the answers to common questions.

How Do I Prove Native American Ancestry? Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Photo Credit:National Archives Native American History banner. 2022.

In this interview from The Root, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. answers questions about tracing Native American ancestry.

American Indian Records in 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. Learn more...

Dawes Rolls Packets

     These records have also been referred to as the "Dawes Rolls," the "Dawes Enrollment Applications," and the "Dawes Enrollment Jackets." The Dawes Packets are contained within the following record group: Record Group 75: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1793-1989.

     From Fold3 by Ancestry  "The Act of March 3, 1893, an Indian Office appropriation bill, contained a rider which created the Dawes Commission. The commission’s purpose was to convince the Five Civilized Tribes (the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole) to agree to give up their community-held tribe’s title to Indian lands, using an allotment process that would transfer the land titles to individual Indians.

The Indian nations lost much of their land as a result of the Dawes Commission, as it cleared the way for white settlers to purchase the land from the Indians. The Indians had more money, but no longer had the land, an impact of long-lasting consequences relating to tribal power. Some tribes have chosen to exclude from tribal membership those who cannot claim descent from an individual on the 'Final Rolls.'"


Department of the Interior

Some people want to become enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe. Others want to verify a family tradition (belief, fact or fiction, passed from generation to generation) that they descended from an American Indian, either in their distant or near past. While others might want just to learn more about from whom and where they came.

When establishing descent from an Indian tribe for membership and enrollment purposes, the individual must provide genealogical documentation. The documentation must prove that the individual lineally descends from an ancestor who was a member of the federally recognized tribe from which the individual claims descent. Read more...

Tracing Native American Family Roots: National Indian Law Library

Group portrait of Osage Indians at White House in 1921

Photo Credit: Library of Congress. National Photo Company Collection. c. 1921

The National Indian Law Library provides a variety of guides with documents and links to help those conducting research on Native American ancestry. They do not provide personal assistance with tracing ancestry.

Federal Depository Library Program

     Jefferson College Library is a congressionally designated selective depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law (U.S.C. Title 44, Sections 1710 and 1711).

     The Federal Depository Library Program was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government’s information. GPO administers the FDLP on behalf of the participating libraries and the public. Information products from the Federal Government are disseminated to these nationwide libraries that, in turn, ensure the American public has free access to the materials, both in print and online. The official version of launched in December 2018 and was developed to provide free access to government information from all three branches of the Federal Government.

Access to the print collection and use of our public access computers are both available during all hours of operation. Chat reference assistance is available during additional evening, weekend, and holiday hours. For a list of days closed, regular, chat, and special hours see our HOURS page.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has a variety of resources for those interested in establishing American  Indian or Alaska Native ancestry. The Certificate of the Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood Instructions will walk you through the requirements, documents, and steps needed to establish ancestry. Helpful hints about how to conduct research to establish ancestry include looking for documents in personal and family records,  in state records, at the National Archives, and in public libraries.

Dawes Enrollment Cards from Fold3

American Indian Library Association Resources

AILA was founded in 1979 in conjunction with the White House Pre-Conference on Indian Library and Information Services on or near Reservations. An affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), the American Indian Library Association is a membership action group that addresses the library-related needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives. AILA is also committed to disseminating information about Indian cultures, languages, values, and information needs to the library community. Members have created the following resources guides: AILA Tribal Library Resources, AILA Academic Library Resources, AILA Public Library Resources, and AILA School Library Resources.