Genealogists who have been struggling to find information about their Native American ancestors might find the data they are searching for in resources that are specifically dedicated to the records of Native Americans. It will help if you can figure out where your ancestor was at the start of the 19th Century, and where he or she was at by the end of that century.
Ancestry.com has put together a blog post with some great advice and information for genealogists that are trying to find out more about their Native American ancestors. They have put together a short timeline with dates of events that could point genealogists towards some useful resources.
In 1860, Census enumerators were instructed to include some Indians on the census. The enumerators were given the following instructions: “Indians not taxed are not to be enumerated. The families of Indians who have renounced tribal rule, and who under state or territory laws exercise the rights of citizens, are to be enumerated.”
Genealogists should start with the 1860 Census. It was the first one to include Native Americans. If your ancestor lived on a reservation in 1860, he or she isn’t going to be on the 1860 Census. That census would, however, include Indians who were living on land that the United States government recognized as a part of a state. Archive.gov says that enumerators recorded more than 40,000 Indians in the 1860 Census.
The 1870 Census numerators were given the same instructions as the 1860 Census enumerators were. There was a change to this year’s census, though. It was the first to list “Indian” as a choice in the column heading for “Color”.
In 1879, the first government Indian boarding school opened. It was the first school that removed students from their reservations. The school was called the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. There is now an online resource that will let genealogists search the lists and rosters from that school.
If you have a subscription at Ancestry.com, you can use their resource of American Indian Records. Fill in the boxes of their search engine with the information you already know about your ancestor. Or, choose from one of the many data collections from the clickable list on that page.
FamilySearch also has a collection of American Indian Online Genealogy Records. Their list of online databases can be searched by an individual’s name, tribe, location, agency, and reservation.
Image by Public.Resource.Org on Flickr.
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