Finding your Cherokee ancestors

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In 1976, Cherokee voters ratified a new Cherokee Constitution, which changed the ways of measuring tribal membership. At that time, it was determined that anyone who could trace direct descent from the Dawes Rolls, a census taken between 1902-1907, could become a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation. There are now over 165,00 registered Cherokee citizens. Here is how to determine if you might be eligible for enrollment in a Cherokee tribe.

First, determine if your ancestor resided in the North Carolina / Tennesse area or lived in Oklahoma between 1893-1906, then follow one of the two possible trails below.

Did your ancestor reside in the North Carolina / Tennessee area?

If yes, is his/her name on any roll in Cherokee Roots, Volume 1: Eastern Cherokee Rolls by Bob Blankenship? If yes, contact the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, PO Box 455 Cherokee NC 28719 

If no, are they on the Guion Miller Roll general index (M*-1104)? If yes, follow references from the Miller records on M-685 to the Drennen or Chapman Rolls (M-685, Roll 12) 

If answer to above is no, are they on the “Intruder” lists? (7RA-53 and 7RA-55)  If yes, they were not recognized as Cherokee citizens. 

If not on the Intruder lists, check the 1896 Old Settler Payment Roll (T-985) 
If yes, check Old Settler roll of 1851 (M-685, roll 12).

Check History of the Cherokee Indians – [The Complete Exhaustive 2012 Edition -WITH 100 PAGE INDEX] by Emmet Starr.

If not found in any of these sources, your ancestor may be Cherokee but it is unlikely they are on any roll. If you have found a direct ancestor, you may be eligible for enrollment in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Did your ancestors live in Oklahoma between 1893 and 1906?

If yes, are they on the Dawes Rolls? (Microfiche M-1186, roll 1) If yes, note their enrollment number and category and find their enrollment card on M-1186. Then use the information on the enrollment card to search earlier rolls such as 1896 Census (7RA-19) and 1880 Census (7RA-07). Is this a direct ancestor?  If yes, you maybe eligible for enrollment in one of the Western Cherokee tribes. Then check M-1301 for enrollment packet. 

If not on the Dawes Rolls, are they on the Guion Miller general index (M-1104, roll)? If yes, follow references from the Miller records on M-685 to Drennen or Chapman Rolls (M-685, Roll 12). You can get a copy of someone’s application by sending the application number to: National Archives (NNFJ), Washington, D.C., 20408. 

If no, are they on the “Intruder ” lists? (7RA-53 and 7RA-55)?  If yes, they were not recognized as Cherokee citizens. 

If not on the Intruder Lists, check the 1896 Old Settler Payment Roll (T-985). If found there, check Old Settler Roll of 1851 (M-685, roll 12). 

Check Cherokee Roots, Volume 2: Western Cherokee Rolls by Bob Blankenship and History of the Cherokee Indians – [The Complete Exhaustive 2012 Edition -WITH 100 PAGE INDEX] by Emmet Starr. 

If your ancestor was not found in any of these sources, your ancestor may be Cherokee but it is unlikely they are on any Roll. If you located a direct lineal ancestor in one of these rolls, you may be eligible for enrollment in the Cherokee Nation or the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.

If you think you are eligible for tribal enrollment, contact:

Cherokee Nation Tribal Registrar
P.O. Box 948
Tahlequah, OK 74465-0948

or

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma
P.O. Box 746
Tahlequah, OK 74465

*M = Microfiche film.  You may be able to view copies of these at your local library, or they may be able to direct you to the depository where they are stored or borrow them for you to look at in the library. Most larger libraries have someone knowledgeable about genealogy research on staff, who will give you some tips for free. Some of the rolls mentioned in this article are available on the internet.