My Grandpa married an Indian Princess. Can you get me my Indian enrollment card and how much will it cost?
Submitted by Elizabeth J.
1. Sorry, no. That’s the short answer.We get some variation of this question at least 50 times a week. We don’t even have time to read them all, let alone answer them. There are people who make a living researching other people’s ancestry for a fee. We don’t. We make our living publishing this website, and that’s a full time job.
But occasionally, (like now) we will give you some general information (again) that may help you get started doing your own research or at least teach you how to inquire for information.
If you are a site member, (it’s free to join), we also welcome you to post your inquiries in the Genealogy section of this website to exchange information with others looking for similar information and ancestors. The more information you give in your inquiry, the more likely you will be to get a response from someone who can help you.
2. First, only Indian nations can issue enrollment cards and they all have established requirements and protocol to prove your Indian ancestry. Those requirements vary from tribe to tribe, but vague oral history just isn’t enough documentation for any tribe I am aware of.
3. Tribes don’t charge for enrollment cards. If someone offers you an enrollment card for the payment of money, it’s probably not legitimate. While some tribal offices may charge you to look up records related to your ancestry for you, as a service, they do not charge for the actual enrollment card.
Most, if not all tribes expect you to do your own research and gather and bring or send them the pertinent legal documents that validate your story, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, baptism records, etc that trace your lineage to a blood relative on whatever roll they use to trace ancestry in their tribe.
4. We aren’t psychic. We’d need a LOT more information to go on, such as full names and dates of birth (at least the surname and approximate year) for at least one (preferably both) grandparents at a minimum.
Alternate spellings of names or other names they might have been known by (such as English name and Indian name) would be helpful.
A geographic location you think your ancestor came from would narrow the search, especially if your surname is a common one. If your ancestor was relocated to a reservation or reserve, where did they live before relocation?
There are over 1,000 native tribes in North America, so a reference to the tribe you think your grandmother belonged to would certainly help.
The first place to start is with your oldest living relatives. Find out what they know about your family history. On the paper trail, start with your parents and work back as far as you can on one branch of the family.
When you come to a dead end, start on another relative and see where that leads you.
Starting places would be official certificates showing places of birth, marriage, death, or christening. Names of parents, grandparents and great grandparents if known, names and date of birth for siblings, spouses, and other close relatives.
Family bibles, old letters and property deeds are other places to look for basic information. Newspaper articles from a paper published in the area and time your ancestor lived may lend a clue.
Once you know the name and tribe of the person you are trying to document, that tribe’s tribal historian might have an oral story that holds a clue if your ancestor was known for something significant.
The biggest source of documentation for Indian ancestry are the government roles taken during the period when Indian tribes were being forcefully relocated to reservations and reserves.
Being able to trace a paper trail to an ancestor from those roles is considered proof by most tribes. Once you know what tribe your ancestor was affiliated with, you can contact that tribe’s enrollment department to find out which roles would be pertinent for your ancestor, and exactly what they require as proof of your relationship to that ancestor.
Most tribes also have a blood quantum requirement, as well as proof of relationship to a tribal member before they will accept you for enrollment. Some tribes also have a time limit on how long after birth you are allowed to apply. Some tribes also require you to have a relationship with their reservation.
A DNA test by itself won’t prove blood quantum, because while it will prove you have some indian ancestry, it will not tell you what tribe you are related to or what percentage of your ancestry comes from a particular tribe.
5. There is no such thing as an Indian Princess unless you are talking about modern day Pow Wow princesses. I hate to to burst anyone’s bubble, but there is no such thing as an “Indian Princess.”
This title was given by our non-native ancestors for lack of a better description. “Grandpa married a Squaw,” is unacceptable terminology because the S—- word is a derogatory term given by the French used to mean a loose woman or a woman’s private parts. (By the way, in modern times, using the “S” word is just as bad and unacceptable as using the “N” word.)
Princess denotes royalty and I believe that’s why it was used instead of the common derogatory name given by the French to describe an Indian woman.
Our ancestors called daughters of a Chief princesses for lack of a better term or in error. A Chief was not a European King, although his authority may have reminded people of european ancestry of royalty, so his daughters could not have been princesses.
While some tribes did have leadership that followed hereditary lines, most did not, and even in the tribes who did, princess was simply not a word in their vocabulary.
If you do not know an ancestor’s given Native American name, the proper way to refer to her would be “Woman”. For example; my grandfather married a MicMac Woman or Mohawk Woman, not princess.
Related Links on This Site:
Former Senator Henry L. Dawes, who had played a major role in getting the 1887 allotment law passed, was named chairman of what became known as the Dawes Commission.
The Dawes Commission was authorized by an act of Congress approved June 28, 1898 to prepare citizenship (tribal membership) rolls for each tribe. These final rolls were the basis for allotment. Under this act, subsequent acts, and resulting agreements negotiated with each tribe, the Dawes Commission received applications for membership covering more than 250,000 people and enrolled more than 101,000.
The Cherokee Indians have had continuing dealings with the U.S. Government since the 1700’s through treaties, legislation, and the courts. There are probably more federal records concerning the Cherokees than any other tribe.
The single best document that can be used to establish Choctaw ancestry is probably the Armstrong Roll of 1830. The testimony in the Net Proceeds Case and the Dawes Commission hearings offer possible aid in providing linkages to that roll. More recent information about Choctaw in Mississippi may be found in their censuses beginning in 1926.
A vast volume of records was created during the period of Indian Removal (1831-34), when the Choctaws and their government were uprooted from their homes in Mississippi and Alabama and taken to the area west of the Mississippi in what is now southeast Oklahoma.
The records relating to the Creek Indians are actually records of a number of different Indian tribes who belonged to confederacy of which the Muskoke or Creek (as they were called by the Europeans) were the principal power. The confederacy included various Muscogee people such as the Okfuskee, Otciapofa, Abikha, Okchai, Hilibi, Fus-hatchee, Tulsa, Coosa, as well as the Alabama, Natchez, Koasati and possibly some Shawnee who settled among them.
Some Creeks had owned slaves prior to 1865, and by treaty they were required to adopt them into the tribe.
On August 4, 1898, Aylesworth gave Isparhecher a signed receipt for twenty-five 1896 town census rolls. It had taken more than two years of requests and then threats of court action to get just one of the “official rolls.” The ninety days that the Dawes Commission had to decide applications under the 1896 act had, of course, long since elapsed.
External Links of the Week:
Each roll link leads to a further explanation of that roll and why you need to search that roll.
A resource for researching First Nations genealogy in Canada. Over 1900 listings–plan to spend some time here.
Links to many Metis records. The term “Métis” is used broadly to describe people with mixed First Nation and European ancestry who identify themselves as Métis, distinct from Indian, Inuit or non-Aboriginal people. (Many Canadians have mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry, but not all identify themselves as Métis).