The Native American Indians can be a difficult research for family lineage. Today, numerous people claim to be ‘part-Indian’; however there were many years when it was not acceptable to say you had any Native Indian blood relations. People hid the fact they may have had a full-blood grandmother who was Cherokee or any other Indian tribe. Names and ethnic identities were changed on records or information omitted from documents, to prevent anyone knowing the truth. With greater acceptance of one’s ethnic heritage, it is now a proud branch of one’s family tree to include a relative who was a Native Indian.
To attempt a search, it is best to start with those who did register and state they were Native Indians. On the Internet database provided by Rootsweb - Native American Data, there are some 285,453 individual records representing 17,782 surnames. Unfortunately, not every tribe in all locations are in the database as of yet.
The site provided a search box where a surname has to be placed. If you don’t know the tribal name or a person’s given name, that is not required. The search using just the surname will also list similar surnames. For example; placing the surname ‘Red’ had ten listings for Red (some were the same person at different times), then a very long grouping of the name ‘Redbird’, then Redbrid’, followed by ‘Redden’ and ‘Reddock’ and so on. So if you thought the family surname was Red, it actually may have only been a form or portion of the real name.
If you find a possible person, it gives an age of the person in some case, their tribe, and most important a ‘More Data’ section to click on which some cases provides even more information. An example is the listing of children who are listed as half-Indian blood, making either the father or mother non-Indian. In turn there are listings on the information of those individuals who are full-blooded Indians. Even when a mother was half-Indian and the father full-blooded Indian, the children were listed as three-quarter Indian.
Once you have a possible name, you can check further on census records around the 1900 and 1910 U. S. Federal Census. Native Indians were not recorded in the 1880 or earlier censuses, so that would be difficult to show lineage. There were U. S. Indian Census rolls done between 1885 and 1940 which can also provide additional information.
Finding the name Lawyer Deer on the Rootsweb Native American Database then led to new information. He was a full-blooded Creek, named Lawyer Deer, born about 1849 in Oklahoma and living in 1910 in Yeager, Oklahoma. There was also information on his second wife and their daughter, Sela. From the Rootsweb Native American Database, the Lawyer Deer family about 1890 had listed his first wife, Hepsey Deer, their four sons and ages. Using those names and ages it was easy to find the Deer family in the 1900 U. S. Census living in the Creek Nation in Indian Territory (which was Oklahoma then) with a ‘Deere‘ spelling. Besides the immediate family, anyone like an in-law or cousin might also be listed as living with the family.
On the ’More Data’ section, the researcher can add a ‘user-added note’ to ask a question, provide information or comment relating to that individual. This opportunity could lead to someone else finding a tie-in with their family tree.
Some of the tribes represented in the database are Cherokee, Cheek, Seminole, Cher, Chickasaw, Delaware, and Choctaw. The time period for these enrollment and court record listings are from 1890 to 1914 and the source is the National Archives.
An interesting site to review to see if the family tales of a Cherokee grandfather just might be true.