Tracing American Indian Family Roots
If you have landed on this blog you're probably already been told you have Indian in your family or you suspect a past ancestor was Indian. It's time for the truth to be revealed. Are you ready?
A few disclaimers before I explain how to go throw the proper steps of researching American Indian ancestry. Read them below.
You may not find documents of your American Indian ancestors and that's ok
When bad meets worse it's possible you may or may not find documents of your ancestors being labeled Indian. Yes, it is possible to be Indian without being documented as Indian.
Please keep in mind that American Indian and so called Black People have went through and still going through paper genocide (the act of writing American Indians out of history through our birth records, death certificates etc).
Because of this awful act done against American Indians you may not find the documents you are looking for or at least not right away. However, do not give up hope. You never know what truly is in store for you.
If you do find American Indian documentation in your family and want to be enrolled be prepared to fight your ass off
Indians of darker hue go through so much shit especially those labeled as Black Indians. There are soo many lawsuits surrounding Black American Indians reclaiming status and citizenship through the tribes.
You may not call yourself black or see yourself as black but tribal council members most likely will. The fight of who is indigenous and what is an Indian is at an all time high.
If you are a freedman like me and want to be enrolled GOOD LUCK! It's not impossible but the kickback and racism dealing with being enrolled is to be expected.
Step 1. Get Your Facts Straight
Have all your information together before you research. It makes the process easier and runs smoother. Get the names of your elders, their birthdates and death dates, their children names and so on. Make sure you get as much accurate information as possible about your family and then you head to a genealogy website.
Step 2. Do The Research
Now it's time to put your ducks in a row. I like to use Ancestry.com to research my genealogy. I start with myself and then add my parents and their information like birthday and birthplace.
Then I add their parents information and then their parent's parents information and so on and so forth. There are many different places you can research your family at. Click here to view different resources to search your genealogy.
Confirm and make sure to match your family's information with the documents you find. Some family records may be out of whack like your great aunt may be labeled as a male or your grandfather name is spelled wrong. But a tell sign that the record belongs to them but the similar information they both share.
The record may say Jun 1934 with your family member name and birthplace but their actual birthday is June 24th, 1934 it is more than likely that this record belongs to your family member.
Step 3. Confirm Your Findings With The Tribe
You found a record of you Indigenous American ancestor! YAY! Now save it! Birth, marriage, and death records can be retrieved by contacting or visiting the right clerk's office in a town or county courthouse, or by contacting or visiting state offices of vital records. Copies or transcripts may also be available through genealogical societies, historical societies, and site archives.
Call the tribe and confirm with the genealogist that the names and information is correct. Once it has been confirmed, print out her birth certificate, death certificate and add it to your application for tribal enrollment.
Some tribes may need DNA testing to confirm if you are indeed a relative to this person/ancestor. Remember DNA testing is NOT the same as DNA ancestry testing. You cannot use solely use a DNA ancestry test to solely enroll in a tribe. You must bring documentation or otherwise you will not be accepted and your application will be denied. Once you submit your application the tribe will either call or mail you your acceptance or denial letter.
Each tribe is different so make sure to call them and confirm what you will need to show proof of American Indian ancestry.
Here is a video of Atsila Yona discussing how to trace American Indian genealogy.