Will a DNA test prove my blood quantum for enrollment in the Seminole tribe?

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Question:
I was told in order to prove that I am Seminole, I have to take a blood test that has something to do with blood quantum but that test is so expensive. Do you have any suggestions?
–Submitted by Halfbreed

Answer:
While a DNA test would indicate you do or do not have some degree of native american genetics, there is no way for a DNA test to prove you decended from a particular Indian tribe and would not be the proof you need to meet enrollment requirements in either Seminole tribe, or any other north american native american tribe.

The requirements for enrollment in the more than 600 tribes in the US and hundreds more in Canada are unique to each tribal constitution and bylaws. Usually, you must prove lineal decendency from an ancestor listed on a specific government or tribal roll from the late 1800s or early 1900s to be eligible for membership.

These rolls were usually taken when the tribe in question was moved to a particular reservation or reserve, or at the time their tribal constitution was drawn up.

At that time, many Indians hid to avoid being moved to reservations, or refused to sign the rolls because they feared discrimination, or were married to non-indians and living in their spouse’s culture and their decendents are therefore, not officially recognized as tribal members today.

Proof of lineage would come in the form of genelogical research, and sometimes, the testimony of living relatives who are already enrolled members of the tribe you are trying to enroll in.

You would need to gather original or certified copies of the pertinent birth certificates, death certificates,and marriage certificates that trace your trail of direct decendancy from an ancestor named on the pertinent roll. But, just proving you decended from an Indian who was a member of that tribe is usually not enough.

Because of inter-marriages with non-indians, the degree of Indian blood has been mixed with other races in many decendents. The percentages of remaining Indian blood are often referred to as blood quantum.

After many generations, the percentage of Indian blood may be so low as to make the person’s appearance and culture be indistinguishable from other races, such as caucasians. For this reason, most tribes have set a limit on the degree of Indian blood they will accept for enrollment in their tribe.

For example, if one of your parents was a full-blood Indian and the other another race, your blood quantum would be 1/2 Indian. If one grandparent was full-blood Indian, your blood quantum would be 1/4th, assuming the other grandparent was non-Indian and your parent from this line married a non-indian.

If a great grandparent was the last full-blood Indian in your line, your blood quantum would be 1/8. After five generations it would be 1/32, after seven generations, 1/128th, at ten generations it would be only 1/1,024th.

Seven generations would probably take you back to the mid 1600s or even earlier if your ancestors lived to be over 50.

Some people have more than one full-blood Indian in their direct lineage, which may have been from different tribes. Most tribes have a provision in their constitution addressing this issue, and most will not accept you for enrollment if you are already an enrolled member in another tribe.

When considering blood quantum for one tribe, the percentage of indian blood in your line from another tribe is usually not included in your blood quantum for the first tribe.

For example, if your great-great grandmother was full-blood Seminole and your father was full-blood Lakota and all other relatives in your line were white, your blood quantum would be 1/2 Lakota, 1/16 Seminole and 7/16 white.

This would make you un-eligible for enrollment in either Seminole tribe, but you would meet the blood quantum requirements for enrollment in the Lakota tribe.

But, as another example, if your father was only 1/8 Lakota in the first example, then your blood quantum would be 1/16 Lakota, 1/16 Seminole and 7/8 white, so then you wouldn’t qualify for enrollment in either Indian tribe even though your total Indian blood quantum would be 1/8th.

Many Indians living today don’t meet the blood quantum requirements to be a member of their tribe. Even many full-bloods are descended from too many tribes to have enough “blood quantum percentage” of any one tribe to meet the enrollment requirements of any one tribe.

All recognized tribes have a blood quantum restriction, family registration restriction, or both. Some tribes also have a time limit for how long after birth you can enroll. For example one year or by age 18, etc. Some tribes require you to have been born and/orĀ  lived on the reservation for certain periods of time.

The Seminole tribe is further complicated, because they had runaway slaves of African decent in their population, whom the Seminoles claimed as slaves so they would be eligible to go to the reservation with other members of the village.

In actuality, these people of African decent were treated as equals and considered part of the tribe by the Seminoles. They were officially freed when the Seminole tribes went onto reservations. This segment of the Seminole tribe became known as the Freedmen.

Most tribes did not give tribal enrollment to their former slaves, but the Seminole did, because they didn’t really consider these people to be slaves, but only said they were to meet government requirements so they wouldn’t have to split up. So some of the originally recognized Seminole population had no Indian blood at all.

Seminole membership rolls include descendants of these Freedmen, but they are not given the same services as tribal members with Seminole blood. Currently the Freedmen have the right to vote in tribal elections.

The Freedmen with the Seminole were the only former slaves of the Five Civilized Tribes to be recognized as tribal members. All five tribes had Freedmen, but all the others had it in their constitutions and ordinance that they would not accept them as enrolled tribal members.

The Five Civilized Tribes: the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole were forced from their original homelands in the southeastern United States, and relocated to Indian Territory in the 1800’s.

By treaty, these new lands in Indian Territory were to be the permanent homes of these tribes. However, the government then forced the dissolution of these Tribal Governments and Nations, and the State of Oklahoma was created in 1907.

Because so many people had suffered and died during the forced relocations 60 years earlier, many families refused to co-operate with the government orders to sign their rolls, fearing another round-up by soldiers and a final death march. This was not an unreasonable fear, as the Wounded Knee Massacre had occured in 1890, only a few short years earlier.

Many people simply resisted any attempt by the government to control their lives. Others who tried to register were refused, because they had lived outside the Nations at one time, and did not meet the government’s strict residency requirements. Many more had gone their own way during the relocation period, settling in the surrounding states of Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas.

Sam Houston, who was adopted by a Cherokee family and had a Cherokee wife, had offered sanctuary in Texas to many Indians during this period. Only those Indians whose direct ancestors were permanent residents of their Nations in Indian Territory, AND who also signed these final rolls, are eligible for tribal membership in the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma today.

In 2000, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma changed their enrollment requirements to require a one-eighth quantum of Seminole blood as a part of enrollment requirements.

Prior to this time, open enrollment requirements did not specify blood quantum as a part of the process. Call the Enrollment Department at (405) 257-6267 to inquire about more specific enrollment information and for applications.

.As the name says, the Seminole Tribe of Florida is from the state of Florida, and did not relocate to the reservation in Oklahoma. Instead, this tribe hid in their original territory in the swamps of Florida to avoid relocation.

Their enrollment requirements are: 1) You must prove lineal descendancy from someone listed on the 1957 Tribal Roll, 2) A blood quantum with a minimum of one-quarter Florida Seminole blood, and 3) You must be sponsored by a currently enrolled tribal member.

The Seminole Indians were once part of the Creek tribe. The Dawes Commission Rollsare the census record that contains their orignial enrollment records. These records are part of the Records of the Office of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75, and are housed in the National Archives-Southwest Region in Fort Worth, TX. You can find the records pertaining to the Creek and Seminole tribes on microfilm in Series: M1186, rolls 77-93 as follows:

ROLL DESCRIPTION CENSUS CARD NUMBER
77 Creek By Blood 1-662
78 Creek By Blood 663-1398
79 Creek By Blood 1399-2125
80 Creek By Blood 2126-2867
81 Creek By Blood 2868-3611
82 Creek By Blood 3612-4059
82 Creek, New Born By Blood 1-289
83 Creek, New Born By Blood 290-1171
84 Creek, Minor By Blood 1-668
85 Creek Freedmen 1-358
86 Creek Freedmen 359-740
87 Creek Freedmen 741-1081
88 Creek Freedmen 1082-1456
89 Creek Freedmen 1457-1833
90 Creek Freedmen 1834-1917
90 Creek Freedmen, New Born, By Blood 1-468
91 Creek Freedmen, New Born, By Blood 469-748
91 Creek Freedmen, Minor, By Blood 1-435
92 Seminole By Blood 1-607
92 Seminole Freedmen 608-670
93 Seminole Freedmen 671-855
93 Seminole, New Born, By Blood 1-181
93 Seminole Freedmen 1-R5
93 Seminole, New Born Freedmen 1-91

The information given for each applicant includes name; roll number (individual’s number if enrolled); age; sex; degree of Indian blood; relationship to the head of family group; parents names; and references to enrollment on earlier rolls used by the DAWES COMMISSION for verification of eligibility.

LINKS OF THE WEEK:

Official Website of the Seminole Tribe of Florida
Official home of Florida Seminoles with information on government, history, culture, tourism, tribal events and news. This site is hard to navigate, but if you start at the Site Map, there is a trove of information here.

Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Official homepage of this Indian tribe provides information on the government and its services as well as some cultural information and links.

Seminole Nation Indian Territory History & Genealogy
History of the Seminoles, biographies, treaties, genealogical resources, and links.

Seminole Emigration Records

The Seminoles were usually collected at Tampa Bay, Florida and from there taken to New Orleans, Louisiana and then to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory where they were officially recorded as having “arrived” west. This is a transcription of a few smaller Seminole Emigration muster rolls and letters from National Archives microfilm series.

Seminole Portraits
The portraits of some of the major Seminole leaders of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) are a highly prized set of hand colored lithographs. They were produced from original paintings done by Charles Bird King (1785-1862), a Washington, D.C. artist, noted for his portraits of prominent people in government and Washington society, as well as those of many Indian delegations who visited the capital. The Seminoles, except Osceola, visited Washington and were painted during the spring of 1826.

Seminole Indian Genealogy & History
Resource links for researching your Seminole ancestors.

Alligator Dance –
Listen with Windows Media Player

Audio recording of Seminole elder Billy Bowlegs III performing traditional Seminole dance and song in 1954.

RELATED LINKS ON THIS SITE:

Seminole Tribe of Florida Overview

Seminole Nation changes tribal enrollment

History of the Seminole Wars

More About the Freedmen Seminoles (Scroll towards bottom of page)

More Native American Genealogy articles

A-ne-jo-di, or Stickball, is a very rough game played by the Seminole and other tribes