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Free information provided for your research knowledge.
This is not an information clearing house.

Please query the Tribe or Federal Entity (Nation, Tribe, etc.) in question, not this publishing company.

Your Indian Ancestry

Thousands of people in the United States have some degree of Indian blood.  Generally, however, unless an individual has at least one parent that is legally entitled to membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe, he probably can't qualify for membership or for special services available to Indians; or to share in the assets of an Indian tribe. 

Many people are descended from members of eastern tribes disbanded before the present government of the United States came into being in 1789.  No groups, with which they can affiliate, now exist.  Others, descended from members of tribes that still exist and have a Federal relationship, can't prove their claim to Indian ancestry because their ancestors separated from their tribes before tribal rolls were begun, in the late 1800's. 

Contrary to popular belief, people do not receive a special payment from the Federal Government merely because they have Indian blood.  Money received by a person of Indian blood may represent income from his own property collected for him by an agent of the United States.  Alternately funds may have been paid as a disbursement from a compensation decision by the Indian Claims Commission or the Court of Claims on a tribal claim for fair payment for lands taken many years ago or in connection with more recent governmental projects comparable to payments made to non-Indians for taking land for governmental purposes. 

Some Indian tribes receive income from the use of tribal timber and other reservation resources, a percentage of which may be distributed per capita among the tribal members.  Individual tribal members also share in the money paid and material furnished to tribes by the United States Government, in fulfillment of treaty obligations.  Money available for payments belongs either to the tribe or to the individual and is held in trust by the United States Government.  Therefore, government checks are issued in making the payment even though the money does not belong to the United States. 

To be eligible for payments from tribal funds, a person -- in addition to possessing Indian blood -- must be a recognized member of an Indian tribe whose money is being distributed.  Generally, the responsibility for establishing this membership lies with the individual. 

Eligibility may depend upon proof of blood relationship to a parent, but sometimes requires tracing relationship to a grandparent, or great grandparent whose name appeared on a membership or census roll of the tribe or on a payment roll used in making a previous per capita distribution of money to its members. 

Most persons know the names of the tribe to which their ancestors belonged.  In these cases, they may be able to get help from the National Archives and Records Service, 8th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408 (  This agency of government has on file census rolls taken on Indian reservations in very early times and various other records of Indians and Indian matters.  These, identified by tribe, band, or tribal group, are dated chiefly 1830-1940.  For help by mail, give the name of the Indian ancestor(s) and the name of the tribal group along with the period of time he was known to be a tribal member.  You may also make a personal search, if you are in Washington, DC. 

Similar records sometimes are maintained by the field office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs that has immediate administrative responsibility over the government's relationship with the tribe.   

If the name of the Indian ancestor's tribe is not known, the person who wishes to trace his genealogy may have considerable difficulty.  However, he can begin his research in records of birth, adoption, baptism, marriage, death, or in items about local events that may have appeared in newspapers serving the areas where the ancestor lived.  Places to find such records include churches, town, city, county or State clerk or record unit, newspapers archives, and libraries.  Most librarians and genealogical researchers can advise and assist in finding the names of depositories of such records and their addresses.  Book mobiles sometimes provide assistance to persons who do not live near a library. 

The form included herein (in the printed version: available to order for $.50 - standard S&H applies), is a form that is useful in listing Indian ancestors.  The form may be filled in with the information the person who is tracing his ancestry already has and sent with his request for information to those places where proper records may be located.

If you use the form for this purpose, you will get the best results if you give full names, dates of birth and death, names of tribes, names of brothers and sisters, and other pertinent information.  This will help researchers locate and identify the family records you seek. 


The application for Certificate of Degree of Indian blood should be completed showing your relationship to an enrolled Indian and/or Indian on the maternal and/or paternal side.  Give the maiden names of the women listed on this form, unless they were enrolled by their married name. 

Quantum of Indian blood is completed from the nearest paternal and/or maternal lineal ancestors of Indian blood enrolled on the final rolls. 

If the applicant is not enrolled, a Certified Copy of Birth Certificate is required to establish relationship to an enrolled parent.  If the parents are not enrolled, a Certified Copy of Birth Certificate for each parent is also required.  In some cases where the Grandparents are not enrolled, a Certified Copy of Birth Certificate for each such Grandparent will be required.  Certified Copies of Birth Certificates may be obtained from the State Department of Health, in the state where a person was born.  Hospital Birth Certificates are not acceptable.  Death Certificates may be used with supporting affidavit. 

Copies of court proceedings probating the estate of your deceased ancestors would be preferable in lieu of a Birth Certificate.  If there have been such proceedings, submit a copy with the application. 

In cases of adoption, quantum of Indian Blood must be proven on the Biological Parents.  A copy of adoption proceedings must be submitted with the application.  All information will be kept confidential.

The application and all required documents may be submitted to your tribal agency.  If you are affiliated with more than one tribe, write only one tribal office and indicate on your application that you are also affiliated with another tribe.  They will contact the appropriate Agency for further information.


Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact, or makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representations, or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. 


Other tribal addresses may be obtained from various public files: telephone book, internet search, Bureau of Indian Affairs, etc.

Copyrighted work - reprinted here with permission.
Free information provided for your research knowledge.
This is not an information clearing house.

Please query the Tribe or Federal Entity (Nation, Tribe, etc.) in question, not this publishing company.

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This Page Last Updated: January 09, 2019

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