Dawes Commission Enrollment Records

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Use these records to prove and ancestor was a member of the Five Civilized Tribes.

Finding an ancestor's name on the Dawes Commission Final Rolls is the best way to prove he or she was accepted in one of these five Native American tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, or Seminole in Indian Territory, also known as Oklahoma Territory, between 1898 to 1906. More were added by an act of Congress in 1914. People who lived outside of Oklahoma were unlikely to be on the Dawes Rolls even if they were in one of these five tribes.

The "Final Rolls" included both the approved (to receive land) and the disapproved.[1] Only about 40 percent of those who applied were accepted on the final rolls. The application packets of the other 60 percent who were rejected may still contain useful genealogical information.

Use these records if your ancestor was:

  • A member of either the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, or Seminole Indian tribe in the southeastern United States.
  • Applicants were required to be living in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to qualify for tribal enrollment. (The 1900 Federal census will help you determine if they were living and where).
  • Alive during the enrollment period between 1896 and 1905.
  • If your ancestor died prior to 1893, you could search for surviving children or grandchildren in the Dawes Commission records.

Origin of the Records. In 1893 Congress established a commission to exchange Indian tribal lands in the southeastern United States for new land allotments to Indian individuals, and open the remainder of land in Oklahoma for settlement by non-Indians. The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes was also called the Dawes Commission after its chairman, Senator Dawes. More than 250,000 people applied to this commission for enrollment and land. Just over 101,000 were eventually approved from 883,772 application packets.

Content of the Records.

  • Enrollment cards (also called census cards) include residence, roll numbers, names of family members, relationships, ages, sex, degree of Indian blood, enrollment date, place and number, parents and their enrollment date or place, spouses, divorces, children or grandchildren.
  • Applications for enrollment include affidavits, vital records, letters, questionnaires, and decisions mentioning relatives, dates, and places.
  • Letter logs include name, address, date of letter, file number, date received, subject, and action taken. Letters are with the applications.


Step 1. Use the Indexes to Find an Ancestor’s Roll Number[edit | edit source]

Search Online Indexes. There are several sets of online records/indexes to the Dawes Commission papers. Search each and note the differences, if any, between them.

  • Instructions
    • National Archives The Dawes Rolls online instructions on why and how-to search for (1) Dawes enrollment cards, (2) index to the Dawes final rolls, and (3) Dawes final rolls.
  • Index to the Dawes Final Rolls
  • Dawes Final Rolls
    • National Archives Dawes Final Rolls 1898-1914. In order by tribe, and then by roll number. Shows roll number, name, age, gender, blood degree, and census card number. Digital book images.
    • Access Genealogy Dawes Final Rolls Shows tribe, name, age, sex, blood degree, card number, roll number, and type (by blood, by marriage, etc.). Computerized abstracts.
    • Ancestry Dawes Final Rolls Shows tribe, roll number, name, age, gender, blood degree, and census card number. Digital book images.
    • Oklahoma Historical Society Dawes Final Rolls Shows name, age, sex, blood degree, census card number, tribe, and roll number. Computerized abstracts.
  • Dawes Enrollment (Census) Cards
    • fold3 Dawes Enrollment (Census) Cards 76,270 entries. Enrollment cards may show tribe, enrollment card number, residence, Dawes roll number, name, age, sex, blood degree, tribal enrollment date, district, and number, parents, parents' enrollment year, parents' enrollment district, and other remarks. Card digital images.
  • Dawes Application Packets
    • fold3 Application Packets 883,772 entries. Application affidavits, birth affidavits, certificates of marriage, and related documents. May show file jackets, tribe, type, application number, name, application date, spouse (and maiden name), father, mother, parents-in-law, post office, and correspondence. Printed forms with handwriting, holographs, and typescript letter digital images.
    • FamilySearch Dawes Application Packets index with link to fold3 images.
If you find it, copy all the information from each entry, and skip to Step 2.
If not, then you can try the following book-on-microfilm index as well.
Images of this book are on the Internet at www.accessgenealogy.com/native/finalrolls/.

Search for an ancestor’s name in the index. The index is arranged in tribal groups. You may need to search for the name in roughly alphabetical order by each tribe and all tribal groups listed (By Blood, Newborn, Minor, By Marriage, Freedmen and .....) in the following table of contents:
Tribe Pg.
By Blood
New Born Choctaws by Blood
Minor Choctaws by Blood
Choctaws by Marriage
Choctaw Freedmen
Minor Choctaw Freedmen
Mississippi Choctaws
New Born Miss. Choctaws
Minor Mississippi Choctaws

By Blood
New Born Chickasaws by Blood
Minor Chickasaws by Blood
Chickasaws by Marriage
Chickasaw Freedmen

By Blood
Minor Cherokees by Blood
Delaware Cherokees
Cherokees by Marriage
Cherokee Freedmen
Minor Cherokee Freedmen

By Blood
New Born Creeks by Blood
Minor Creeks by Blood
Creek Freedmen
New Born Creek Freedmen
Minor Creek Freedmen

By Blood and Freedmen
New Born Seminoles by Blood
New Born Seminole Freedmen


Definitions[edit | edit source]

  • By Blood were people who were born members of the tribe.
  • New Borns were children born after 1902.
  • Minors were children who were added to the rolls in 1906.
  • By Marriage were non-citizens or whites who married into the tribe.
  • Freedmen, Freedmen Minors, and Freedmen New Borns were former slaves of tribal members, or descendants of former slaves.

Copy the tribal group, and roll number[edit | edit source]

When you find your ancestor’s name, look at the age (or figure it out). Does it match (within 2-3 years) the age your ancestor was in 1902? If so, write down: (a) the name of his or her tribal group, and (b) the roll number in the right column of the index.

Dawes Index.png

Can’t Find a Name in the Dawes Commission Index?[edit | edit source]

Before concluding your ancestor’s name is not in the index, consider:

  • Only the first two letters of a name are alphabetical. After that letters may not be in order. For example, Bennett may file before Belvin.
  • The name may be spelled differently, for example, Anne instead of Ann, or Thos. instead of Thomas. Search for variant spellings.
  • Look for your ancestor by his or her English name, Indian name, middle name, nickname, initials, married name, or maiden name.
  • Maybe he or she was listed under a different tribe or category than you expected. Look in each of the 29 sections of the index.
  • Look for your ancestor’s relatives. Relatives may refer to your family.
  • If your ancestor was a Cherokee by Blood you could also search:
  • Bob Blankenship, Dawes Roll “Plus” of Cherokee Nation 1898, 2nd ed. ([Cherokee, North Carolina]: Cherokee Roots Publication, 1994). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Q Book 970.1 B611d) Lists name, census number, Miller roll application number, age, and sex.

Rejected Applications. Your ancestor’s application may have been rejected. The Commission eventually rejected 60% of the applications. Only a few rejected applications are in the indexes you just searched.

If your ancestor does not seem to be on the Internet, or in these books, you could ask for help by contacting: National Archives, 2600 West 7th Street, Suite 162, Fort Worth, Texas 76107, E-mail: ftworth.archives@nara.gov, Fax: 817-334-5621.

Step 2. Use the Final Rolls to find and copy the census card number[edit | edit source]

You already may have found the census card number on one or more of the Internet indexes, but if not

Find the final rolls in either a book, or a book-on-microfilm format.

  • United States, Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (1907. Reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publ., 2007). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Film 908371 item 2; Book 970.1 Un3c. The film is in the FHL 2nd floor cabinets. This book is in the FHL 2nd floor reference area.

Search the Final Rolls and copy the census card number.

  • Look for the tribal group and roll number you copied during Step 1.
  • When you find the roll number and your ancestor’s name, write down the census card number.
Dawess Final Rolls.png

Step 3. Find the Census Card on Film and Copy It[edit | edit source]

You already may have found the census card on the fold3 Internet site listed above, but if not

Find the microfilm number of the census card.

Find the following entry in the FamilySearch Catalog. To open this entry in the catalog, click here.
Look up the tribal group and census card number to find which of 93 films has the census card (also known as the enrollment card).
Write down the film number of the census card and on your research log.

Retrieve the film, search for the census card in numerical order, and photocopy the card.

Dawes Census Card.jpg

Can’t Find a Census Card on the Film?

There are three groups of cards:

  • “Straight” for applications approved for enrollment;
  • “R” for rejected applications
  • “D” for doubtful applications.

Your ancestor’s card may have a “D” or an “R” number. The catalog lists the “D” and “R” numbers after the “straight” numbers.

Step 4. Find the Application for Enrollment on Film and Copy It[edit | edit source]

You already may have found the application for enrollment packet on the fold3 Internet site listed above, but if not

Find the application for enrollment microfilm number.

Find the following entry in the FamilySearch Catalog. To open this entry in the catalog, click here.
  • Scroll through until you find the film number of the application packet for your ancestor’s tribal group and census card number.
  • Write the film number of the application packet on your research log.

Retrieve the film, find, and photocopy the application packet.

Step 5. Look for Your Ancestor’s Name in the Letter Logs[edit | edit source]

Letter logs list name, address, date of letter, file number, date received, subject, and action taken. Use the letter logs to find clues that hint at relatives, or point to unexpected Dawes files.

Find the Dawes Commission Letter Logs' microfilm numbers.

Find the following entry in the FamilySearch Catalog. To open this entry in the catalog, click here.
  • United States, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Index to Letters Received by Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1897–1913, National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1314. (Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1983). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Films 1694814-36.

Retrieve the microfilms, find, and photocopy your ancestor’s entries in all places found in several letter logs.

The Dawes Commission letter logs are in order chronologically by 17 sets of years, and then alphabetically by the first two letters of the surname. Look for spill-over names at the end of each letter of the alphabet. An ancestor’s name probably appears in only a few of them, but take a few minutes to search each log anyway.

Dawes Letter Log left.jpg
Dawes Letter Log right.jpg

For Further Information

For other Indian records look in the FamilySearch Catalog Place Search under


Also look in the Subject Search under the name of the tribe.

See also:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Anne Bruner Eales, and Robert M. Kvasnicka, eds. Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States, 3rd ed. (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 2000), 128. At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Fiche 6051414; Book 973 J53e.