Your search for Indian heritage begins at home
Those of us living in
Oklahoma are lucky when it comes to resources. It is where some of the
best research holdings on indigenous Americans are kept. The Oklahoma
Historical Society in Oklahoma City boasts a huge catalog, said to be
the largest outside of the National Archives.
The research resources in Tulsa
are probably the second largest and the facility at the Schusterman-Benson
site one of the finest.
Good Indian research requires the same
groundwork as for any genealogical search -- your own household.
Ask your oldest living relative if he
or she has any knowledge of a roll number or any family legends
involving Indian traditions, foods, sports or medicine.
Does great-grandmother have Cherokee
cheek bones in those old family photographs? Although natives do come
in all shapes and sizes, some characteristics are noticeable.
Make notes of all important
information that is passed on to you by elders and organize it by
family with as many dates as can be filled in. More will be added as
Go through old family Bibles that may contain
important dates such as births, marriages and deaths. They are often a
goldmine of information.
Look through scrapbooks of days gone by with
your elders, having them identify people and spurring their minds to
recall memorable events. Notice the type of clothing, housing, animals
and scenery in the pictures. They can add clues to your family's past.
Most importantly, find out when your
ancestors came to Indian Territory.
They had to have been living in Eastern
Oklahoma in 1900 and claiming native descendancy on the 1900 Federal
Census of Indian Territory to be enrolled by the Dawes Commission.
The Dawes agents stopped taking
applications for newborns and minors in 1907, when Oklahoma became a
state. And even though the ancestors may have met the residency
qualification, many were rejected after lengthy hearings, or stricken
from the rolls because of death.
Some white people, on the other
hand, were enrolled by virtue of having married an Indian. Former
slaves were enrolled as "freedmen," but were given smaller
portions of land than tribe member..
If you have that knowledge and
curiosity, your next step is to go to outside resources to develop
further your information.
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