This guide is designed to introduce you to books, databases, websites, and information related to Native American Genealogical Research. Studying family ancestors allows you to trace your lineage. By starting with yourself and working backwards you can explore how you came to be. Begin by talking with living relatives, the older the better so you can put together a pedigree chart. Go into the attic, closet, garage, look in the old shoe box or trunk and find the certificates, documents, letters, notes and pictures. Get names and places and dates. And then come visit us in Texana/Genealogy. We'll get you climbing onto the limbs of your tree!
There is a total of 584 federally-recognized tribal entities in the United States. Each is a sovereign state with their own laws, rules, and regulations. Each of these tribes/nations have their own unique cultures, languages, and histories, and thus their own set of records and resources. The Census records for 1900 and 1910 identify tribal affiliations, so this is a good place to start searching. For earlier records, you may find Native American ancestors who are listed as “mulatto,” not “Indian.”
Note: If you take a DNA test, it will NOT tell you what tribe you or your family is from. At the most, it could tell you if you potentially have indigenous roots, but nothing specific. If you have specific family members you want to research, look at where they are from and what tribe(s) live/d in that area. The databases below are great starting points.
Free with a library card or at any San Antonio Public Library:
This collection of more than 4,000 databases and two billion names through birth records, marriage records, death records, church records, censuses, immigration records, yearbooks, land records, military records, newspapers, obituaries, and more.
Fold3 Library Edition
The Fold3 has a Native American collection that feature documents, most never before available before on the Internet, relating to the Dawes Commission, census rolls, treaties, tribe applications, the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, historical newspapers, naturalization documents, and many more.
Free online database:
The Texana/Genealogy Department is a Reference Only Collection. The materials are not allowed to leave the department, however, copies of some of the books are available for check out in the circulating collection.
District court records may include civil, criminal, and juvenile cases. The civil realm can hear matters of name changes, protective orders, and juvenile guardianship. The following 5-civilized tribe district court records are from the holdings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and are found on their FamilySearch.org website. You might also find district court records online by searching under the county name and “district court."
Records on these sites cover many correspondences and types of church events, such as baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials.