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February 25, 2011

Native Genealogy 101

One of the most frequently asked questions at the National Museum of the American Indian—by visitors to the museum in Washington and New York, people on the internet, and people who write letters to the staff—concerns tracing individual Indian ancestry. They often begin by saying, “I am adopted,” “My family always said we were Indian,” ”My grandmother was Indian and lived at a time when she tried to hide it,” “My father died and didn’t tell us anything.”

Genealogy is a term associated with researching family ancestry, lineages, and history. There are many ways to trace Native ancestry. People use family records, historical records, genetic analysis, oral historical accounts, and other records to compile genealogical information. Family bibles; newspaper articles; county birth, death, and marriage certificates; and interviews or conversations with family members also offer valuable information.

Start with yourself and work backwards through your family—your mom and dad, your grandparents, and then your great-grandparents. If you know where your relatives were born, try to get birth or death certificates, wills, or probates (records of the settlement of estates). If family members were landowners, go to the Bureau of Land Management and type in their name and the state where they lived. 

Also check with the courthouse of their last known community of residence to see if there is a will or probate. To find out if family members belong to a federally recognized tribe, research where the tribe keeps its records and see if their family members are listed. 

Two sources I highly recommend to people doing genealogical research are the National Archives and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Other useful websites include:






Many people we meet at the museum are looking for Cherokee ancestry. If that describes your family, you might try:






I wish you every success in learning about your family’s background and history. If you have helpful genealogy information to share, please post it.


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There are other sites that I have found very useful. The special treasure is Cyndi's List at www.cyndislist.com, where she endeavors to list all genealogical information on the web. Just about any aspect of genealogy is covered. It's been on the web for as long as I can remember.
The USGenWeb Project at www.usgenweb.com and the American Local History Network at www.alhn.org are both organizations that both encourage the gathering, preserving and sharing data and family information on the state and county level.

That's very interesting. I'm just wondering what about those first generation immigrants, how would they trace back overseas genealogy?


thank you so much

thank you so much nice post tercüme

Wow, you might say that the technology is very good! Photo, so beautiful, very clear, wish you good luck, create the future together!

Tracing genealogy can be exciting and sometimes depressing if you are not happy with what you find.

It's very important to know about where we came from...

thank you for this awesome post!

thank you !! FOR THE NICE & AMazing post !!

I am very thankful in your site...very useful

thanks for the information... i ve been searching for this!

I could not ask for more!great post work..keep it up,,:-)

Think of how valuable this information will be in 100, 200 or 1000 years.
That people had the foresight to gather their ancestry info together before it was lost for ever... fantastic!

nice article,, thanks for sharing it....

My family has also always said we have Cherokee blood. Some of the best information I found on my family is the record of their application to prove descent from the Eastern band of the Cherokee Indians. They wanted to share the in the fund Congress established in the early 1900s to those that could document their lineage. Their application was not approved but the information it contains has been very helpful to me.


That is very interesting

I've always been interested to find out more about my family tree. Looks like there are a lot of great resources to be able to do that. Thanks for the post!

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