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Cherokee Chief
Cherokee Chief
Native American Indian (NAI) Profile©

While tracing Cherokee ancestry is difficult it is not impossible. There are records for the "Eastern" Cherokees and of the "Western" Cherokees. These records are representative of those existing for other tribes which came under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

For those interested in conducting their own research, "Exploring Your Cherokee Ancestry" by Thomas G. Moony is highly recommended. (See my file NA_SOURC.HTM for source records which can provide maps, books, and pamphlets, etc. etc. ...prs)

Several census have been taken and tribal records have also been kept. Sometimes in the census/index records you will find a number with the name. This number could be a "Roll" number and is very important. Keep it.

If you are researching so that you may receive "Tribal Membership". To register as a member of the Cherokee Nation one must prove direct ancestry to a person of Cherokee Blood enrolled by DAWES during the period of 1898 to 1914. Simultaneous applications for "Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood" and "Cherokee Nation Membership" are required. Birth certificates, Death certificates, and Court Records are some of the means of "proving" direct decendency from a person on the DAWES Roll. It is your responsibility to "prove" to the Cherokee Nation that you are entitled to be registered as a member. If your descendent is NOT on the DAWES Roll no registration will be allowed. [per McClure, Pg200]
Applications may be obtained from Cherokee Nation, Tribal Register Tahlequah, OK. 74465 Phone 918-456-0671
Note that tribal agencies do Not accept Federal Census Records as Proof of Indian blood. [per McClure, Pg201]

Originally the Native American Indian was to be included in the Vital Statistic Records of each state when that state began keeping records but because the Native American Indians were spread out in large area, complete registering was not done for many years. There are many tribal offices for different tribes as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs offices for different areas. As of the 1980 Federal census there were 25 pages (80 tribes to a page) of listed "tribes" to be coded and those not listed had a special code number. The more well known tribes were: Apache, Navajo, Hopi, Cherokee, Sioux, Iroquois, Crow, Cippewa and many others. The tribes that are less known include the Attu, Atka, Hoh, Makah, Sanak, etc. Some tribes have more and better records than others. Our way of doing genealogy does not always fit the Indian way. They may take into their home an orphan, the homeless of any age, a widow or other stray and call them "brother, sister, aunt" etc... and there may be no blood relationship at all. It was also an accepted practice to use the mother's family name and she could be listed as head of household. An Indian name generally does not tell you if the person is male or female.

Many Native Americans were missed completely on the census rolls when taken because of distance, lack of communication and understanding of the language and customs. Others did not want to admit to being Indian and some just refused to report. Also, as with all people, names were written as then sounded to the person taking the census. ( Pal could be listed as Powell). Many Native Americans had only one name which did not help to keep the records correct. There were many with given and surnames so different from what the record taker was accustomed to that they did not always understand them or know how to record them.

As with any other family research, it is best to start with your "known" parent and work back toward your descendent. 1920, 1910, 1900, etc. etc. These Census & Roll records are located in the Fort Worth Federal Record Center, the National Archives and the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City. As well as other Regional NARC Centers.

The Cherokees were once a mighty and powerful nation. At the time when the Cherokees came first in contact with the white man (DeSoto in 1540, they claimed some 135,000 square miles of territory covering parts of eight present-day states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginal. By the end of the American Revolutionary War, the Cherokees had lost about half of their land in the east. Between 1785 and 1835 the Cherokee lands had shrunk to a few million acres. By the "Treaty of New Echota" in 1835, all lands east of the Mississippi River were ceded to the Federal Government. (Of the 40 treaties executed with the Cherokees, the Federal Government chose to break each and every one.)

As far back as 1782, a group of Estern Cherokee who fought with the British in the Revolution petitioned the Spanish for permission to settle west of the Mississippi, which was granted. A. group of Eastern Cherokee moved in 1794 into the St. Francis River valley in present-day southeastern Missouri. It is probable that there were already Cherokee settled in the Missouri area. Records of how many people, and when, moved "West" are limited. Due to earthquakes and flooding in Missouri, around 1812, most of the Cherokee in Missouri moved into present-day northwestern Arkansas.

was a result of a conference between the OSAGES and the CHEROKEES, convened at the mouth of the Verdigris River. Major WILLIAM LOVELY, Cherokee agent in the West, obtained an agreement whereby the OSAGES ceded to the United States the land as follows:
"Beginning at the Arkansas River .. Frog Bayoy .. then
up the Arkansas and Verdigris to the falls of the Verdigris
River .. thence Eastwardly, to the said OSAGE boundary line, at a
point 20 leagues North from the Arkansas River .. and, with that
line, to the point of beginning..."

During 1811-1812,
the Cherokees moved en masse to the Arkansas region. In the "Turkey Town Treaty of" 1817 the Cherokee ceded land and some 1,100 Cherockees started (1818-19) their removal from their ancestral lands East of the Mississippi to area to Arkansas Territory. The Cherokee agreed to exchange 1/3rd of the lands in the East for equal acreage located between the White River on the Northeast boundary and the Arkansas River on the Southwest boundary in the then Arkansas Territory. Out of these "treaties", the Cherokee had a choice of two alternatives. They could either "enroll" to move to the traded land in Arkansas or they could "file" for a reservation of 640 acres in the east which would revert to the state upon their death or abandonment of the property.

  Reservation Rolls 1817:
A listing of those Cherokees desiring a 640 acre tract in the east and permitted to reside their. No record exists of the 2,000 Cherokees who emigrated before 1817.

Emigration Rolls 1817- 1835
A listing of those Cherokees emigrating to Arkansas territory & later 1828 to Oklahoma In 1828, the Cherokees ceded their lands in Arkansas for land in Oklahoma.

Henderson Rolls 1835
A listing of 16,000 Cherokees living in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, & North Carolina to be removed to Oklahoma, per Treaty New Echota.

The "Treaty of New Echota", 29 Dec 1835, represented the final cession of all Cherokee lands east of the Mississippi. This Census (NARC T-496) was taken of the Western Cherokees in 1835 before they were force to move in what is know as "The Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma. But in the three years between 1835 and 1838 no records seem to have been kept of those Cherokee Indians who were born, who died (4,000) along the way, who never left their homes, or who initially reached the new territory in the west. Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1835 by Major Currey who was in charge of the Census classified as "Indian" anyone with 1/4 degree of Indian blood.

In 1838, several hundred Cherokees in the East escaped into the mountains of North Carolina and became known as the Eastern Band of Cherokees. At about the same time, many elected to take advantage of Article 12 of the 1835 treaty which allowed those desirous to stay in the east if they met certain criteria.

Mullay Roll 1848 A listing of 1,517 Cherokees living in in North Carolina after the removal of 1838 Agent John C. Mullay took the Census pursuant to an act of Congress in 1848.

Siler Roll 1851 A listing of 1,700 Cherokees living in Eastern Cherokee entitled to a per capita payment pursuant an act of Congress in 1850.

In 1851, David W. Silar was appointed to take a census of the Cherokees east of the Mississippi to determine who could be eligible to participate in a per capita payment based on the 1835 treaty. Silar submitted his census list which contained 1,959? individuals by state and county in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

Old Settler Roll 1851 A listing of Cherokees still living in 1851 who already residing in Oklahoma when the main body of the Cherokee arrived in the winter of 1839 (Trail of Tears) Approximately one third were Old Settlers and two third were new arrivals.

The 1851 Old Settler Roll lists each individual by district and his/her children unless the mother was an emigrant Cherokee. In this case, the children were listed with their mother on the Drennen Roll 1852. There were 44 family groups listed as non-residents. Guion Miller used this roll in compiling the 1910 record.

Chapman Roll 1852 Prepared by Albert Chapman as a listing of those Cherokee actually receiving payment based on Siler 1851 Eastern Census.

In 1851 and 1852 the per capita payments were made by Alfred Chapman based on Silar's census to 2,134 individuals.This roll played an important part in Guion Miller's preparation of his roll completed in 1910. Anyone who could trace their ancestry to an individual on the Chapman Roll was included on Miller's roll.

Drennen Roll 1852 Prepared by John Drennen as a listing of first Census of "New" arrivals of 1839 in Oklahoma. (Trail of Tears)

Federal Census 1860 M-653 Roll 52 & 54 contain Indian lands in Arkansas

Swetland Roll 1869 Prepared by S.H. Swetland as a listing of those Cherokee, and their decedents, who were listed as remaining in North Carolina by Mullay 1848 Census. Made pursuant to an act of Congress 1868 for a removal payment authorization.

S. H. Swetland was appointed to take a census in 1868. He was to use the Mullay Roll of 1848 as the basis for his census. This census was completed in 1868 and gives the families in the Eastern Cherokee band.

Hester Roll 1883 Prepared by Joseph G. Hester as a listing of Eastern Cherokee in 1883. (This Roll is an excellent source of information. Includes ancestors, Chapman Roll Number, age English name and Indian name.)

In 1882, Joseph G. Hester was appointed to take the 5th census of the Eastern Band. Copies of the previous census were made available to him and he was required to account for all persons on the previous rolls by either including them on the new roll, noting their deaths on the old rolls or describing their whereabouts as unknown either to Mr. Hester or any of the Native Americans. This completed roll was submitted to the Secretary of Interior in 1884. It contained 2,956 persons residing in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Jersey, and California. Those living west of the Mississippi and listed by Mr. Hester were descendants of members of the Eastern Band and had no affiliation with the Cherokee Nation in the west.

Federal Census 1880 T-9, 1,454 rolls, Check Federal Territorial Census rolls using the names and locations found in the Indian Rolls. (Note the 1880 Indian Schedules for this Federal Census were destroyed.) In 1879, the Cherokee National Council authorized a census and this 1880 Census was arranged in 6 schedules. Again, in 1883 and 1886, The Cherokee National Council authorized another census.

Federal Census 1890 M-123, Roll 76 is Indian Territory, Oklahoma In 1890, another census of the Cherokee Nation was made and it is probably the most complete of any of the census. It included Cherokees and adopted whites, Shawnees and Delawares, orphans under 16 yrs, those denied citizenship by the Cherokee authorities, those whose claims to citizenship were pending, intruders and whites living in the Cherokee Nation by permission.

Payment Roll 1896 The 1896 Payment Roll is based on the above 1851 Old Settler Roll and listed each payee 1851 roll number, name, age, sex, and post office address.

The DAWES Roll The final Roll for allotting the land and terminating 1898-1914 the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Senator Henry L. Dawes was the Commission's Chairman. The Roll turned out NOT to be as final as it was expected to be. Upon the re-organization of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in the 1970's, the DAWES Roll became the only means of "Certifying" membership. To be enrolled by the Cherokee Nation, one must "prove" ancestry to a person enrolled by DAWES.

Federal Census 1900 T-623, 1,854 rolls, Same as 1910; in addition a separate Indian Territory Schedule is at the end of the Soundex Index (T-1082). Use Soundex Code. This lists members of the Five Civilized Tribes as well as Whites and Blacks living in the Indian Territory. Rolls 1843-1854 are the rolls for the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Peoria, Quapaw, Seneca, Wyandotte, Seminole, Modoc, Ottawa & Shawnee nations. There are also special state censuses listing Indian population by tribes or reservations.

Five Civilized Tribes 1907 #7 RA3 index & final rolls 5 civilized Tribes-1907

Churchill Roll 1908 Prepared by Frank C. Churchill as a listing of Eastern Cherokee to "Certify Members" of the Eastern Band. (Like the Hester above has lots of Information)

Guion Miller Roll 1909 Prepared by Guion Miller of all Eastern Cherokee (Not Old Settlers), residing in the either East or West of the Mississippi River. Ordered by the Court of Claims as result of "Suit" won by Eastern Cherokees.

Federal Census 1910 T-624, 1,784 rolls, Indian Schedules are at the end of the identified Enumeration District ED (Use the Federal Census Index Books for ED of County of Residence.)

Federal Census 1920 T-625, 8,585 rolls, Native American Indians may be identified as Black, Indian, Other, or white.

Baker Roll 1924 This was supposed to be the "final Roll" of the Eastern Cherokee. The land was to be allotted and all were to become citizens. Fortunately the Eastern Cherokee avoided the termination procedures, unlike their brothers of the Cherokee Nation West. The Baker Roll Revised is the currant membership Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

There have been other census taken from time to time that included the some of the Creek, Shawnees and Delawares that became part of the Cherokee Nation.

There are numerous other records available in the National Archives which include records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Army Mobile Units, Records of the Supreme Court, Records of the US District Courts, Records of the US Court of Appeals, Records of the US Court of Claims, Records of the Veterans Administration. Since the Cherokee Indians were not (generally) subject to state courts, their civil and criminal court records are normally found in the Federal Court records.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs records include the Indian Removal records, the Land Division records, the Enrollment of the Eastern Cherokee, the Law and Probate Division records (this has to do with the heirs of deceased Indian allottees), the Civilization Division records, the Indian Civil War Claims records, the Statistics Division records, the Finance Division records and the Miscellaneous Division records.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Field Office records available for Cherokees include Cherokee Agency, East located at National Archives; Cherokee Agency, North Carolina located at FARC, Atlanta; Cherokee Agency, West located at the National Archives.

In 1938, the Adjutant General's Office transferred its collection of Confederate records to the National Archives. While many of the Confederate records were destroyed before seizure by the Union Army, some records still exist. Roll 74, Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Confederate Organizations contains information about the Indian Organizations.Also, compiled military service records have been reproduced on microfilm by the National Archives that include service records of Confederate soldiers.Also the Confederate States Army Casualties and also documents pertaining to battles in Indian Territory are in the records.

The Indian Archives in the Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, contains about 3 million manuscripts and 6 thousand bound volumes of Indian documents.This is the largest collection of Indian documents in the United States outside of the National Archives.In addition, private collections are also housed at the Oklahoma Historical Society.These include the works of several noted Indian historians.In addition, the Oklahoma Historical Society maintains an excellent collection of Oklahoma newspapers.

The Oklahoma Historical Society records contains 740 bound volumes and 25 file drawers containing over 430,000 pages pertaining to the Cherokee Nation.

In doing Native American research, just remember that not all Cherokee descendants are REALLY Cherokee. Since many persons who were white, members of other tribes, and slaves were granted membership into the Cherokee tribe. One should check the Creek, Choctaw and Delaware records very closely also as these groups contributed MANY members to the Cherokee Tribe.

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Part of the SFA Native American Indian - Catawba Series! These records are part of the "History American Indian Profile©" by Volume - I. Sarratt/Sarrett/Surratt Family Profile©
Compiled and self Published in Jun. 29, 1993 by Paul R. Sarrett, Jr. with the assistance of my late mother
Mrs. M. Lucille (WILSON) SARRETT (1917-1987) The SFA "Work-Books" were compiled by "General, Languages, Tribes, Treaties, Wars, How to Research NA Ancestors, Bibliographies". In 1996 I started "Up-Loading" this material on the Sarratt/Sarrett/Surratt Families of America (SFA)© site. ..prs
Would like to Exchange and Share information on SARRATT / SARRETT / SURRATT Families, contact me at:
E-Mail: Paul R. Sarrett, Jr. Auburn, CA.

Text - Copyright © 1996-2009 Paul R. Sarrett, Jr.
Created: Dec. 01, 1996; Aug 10, 2001;  May 17, 2005;  Jan 20, 2009;