Some want to know whether the stories they heard about Indians being in their family tree are true; others want the benefits they believe are due to them by proving they have Indian blood. Whatever your reasons, there are ways to tell whether you have Indian in your bloodline.
– Interview the oldest members in your family members. Record their statements and write them down as well. Make sure you get the exact, full names; birthdates; birthplaces; marriage dates and death dates of your elders, beginning with your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
– Research the U.S. Census of 1920 to see where all of your ancestors were living then. Start with the towns where they grew up, as most of the base rolls or Indian census rolls were created between 1890 and 1920. If the ancestor is not on the census roll, look for listings of other relatives.
– Try military records when looking for a male relative who may have fought in World War I, World War II or the Korean War. Start with the World War I draft registration card, which you may be able to get more easily.
– Check the Social Security Death Index. If you find the names of any relatives, request a copy of the relative’s application for a Social Security number. The application should give the names of the relative’s parents and the relative’s birthplace and birthdate.
– Check all hospital, funeral home, cemetery, court, church and employment records. Find out whether the churches kept full records of their members and not just the membership totals.
– Look for newspapers published for the tribal group’s benefit in the time period you are searching. These newspapers may have microfiche copies at the public library in your relative’s town.
– Hire a genealogist to find your relatives, as many Indian tribes and their membership records were destroyed. The American Indian population was reduced from about 10 million in the 1600s to 300,000 by 1865 from disease and almost constant warfare between tribes as well as with the U.S. military, which carried out several massacres. If you are black, hire a genealogist for help in learning whether you are from one of the “Five Civilized Tribes” – the Chickasaws, Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks and Seminoles.