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Native American Ancestry

How to Legally Establish your Native Ancestry

We frequently receive inquiries from people asking how to establish legal proof and recognition of their Native American ancestry. To provide answers to this and related inquiries, we provide the following information to assist and guide those through the process.

DNA

The first step is to determine if you have Native American ancestry is to take a DNA test.

There are several type of tests.  Take an Autosomal DNA test.  Autosomal DNA is inherited equally from both parents. It is  the 22 pairs of numbered chromosomes without the X and Y chromosomes.

This test will prove definitely if you have or do not have Native American blood.  Providers of the test include Ancestry.com, 23andMe.com, FamilyTreeDNA.com and National Geographic Genographic Project.

If your text results show Native American ancestry, the next step is to visit the online resources of the federal government.

Government Guides

The U.S. Department of the Interior has published several articles on its website to help you trace your ancestry, document it, and contact tribes about enrollment.

Trace Indian Ancestry
U.S. Department of the Interior
https://www.doi.gov/tribes/trace-ancestry
General Information about Ancestry, Genealogical Research, Enrollment Process, Benefits & Services Provided to American Indians and Alaska Natives, Cherokee Indian Ancestry, Dawes Rolls, and Contacting a Tribal Entity.

Guide to Tracing Your American Indian Ancestry
Bureau of Indian Affairs
U.S. Department of the Interior
https://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc002656.pdf
Subjects include Establishing Your American Indian Ancestry' Benefits and Services Provided to American Indian & Alaska Natives, Enrollment in a Federally Recognized Tribe, Doing the Genealogical Research, Cherokee Indian Ancestry

If you prefer to hire a researcher instead of doing the work yourself, the U.S. Interior Department recommends that you contact either of the following organizations for their list of genealogical researchers.  There is a fee for their services.

Board of Certification of Genealogists
P.O. Box 14291
Washington, D.C. 20044

Association of Professional Genealogists
P.O. Box 40393
Denver, Colorado 80204

Documentation

Using these government guides your next step will be to determine your roots to a specific tribe. Since each tribe is a sovereign nation, the application and requirements for enrollment are determined by the tribe rather than by government policies.

Tribal Leaders Directory

To help you contact a tribe and begin the process, the website of the Bureau of Indian Affairs has published a directory of contact information for each tribe and its leaders. The directory is located here: https://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/BIA/OIS/TribalGovernmentServices/TribalDirectory/index.htm

American Indian Records in the National Archives
https://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans

Enrollment requirements vary from tribe to tribe. In most all cases you will need vital records connecting your ancestry to an individual listed on an Indian census in 1900 and 1910

The National Archives is a great resource for American Indians information from 1774 to the mid 1990s. This includes the important census data of the Dawes Rolls and the Guion Miller Roll.

CDIB Card

How to Register for a CDIB Card
Certificate Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB)

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs issues this certification card showing your blood quantum and tribal affiliation. Blood quantum is an individual's percentage of Native American blood.

To obtain this card, visit the BIA website: https://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/how-to-register-or-get-your-cdib-card.htm

Tribal Enrollment Process

The requirements for member enrollment are established by each tribe. You must contact the tribe for instructions.

Additional Resources

Tribal Enrollment Process
U.S. Department of the Interior
https://www.doi.gov/tribes/enrollment

Native American Rights Fund
The National Indian Law Library (NILL)
www.narf.org/nill/resources/enrollment.html

American Indian College Fund

Tribal Enrollment Process

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