Glossary of Terms Related to Indigenous Peoples of the United States

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Glossary of Terms Related to Indigenous Peoples of the United States
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These are terms which are somewhat unique to American Indian research. Some are common terms with meanings unique to Indian research. This is an attempt to define some of those terms.


A[edit | edit source]

Agency -- the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, usually responsible one or more tribes residing on a reservation

Agent -- a person appointed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to administer its local office on or near a reservation.

Allotment Record -- the policy of the federal government was to allot land on a reservation to individuals; the records of these allotments provides information about the individual and the family relationships

Annuity Rolls -- payments made by a government to a tribe, and later to individuals, to fulfill provisions stipulated by treaties and agreements made between the Indians and the Government.

Area Office -- an administrative office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the United States.

B[edit | edit source]

Band -- a subdivision of a tribe

BIA -- The Bureau of Indian Affairs in the United States.

Blood Quantum -- Degree of Indian blood.

Boarding Schools

C[edit | edit source]

CDIB Card -- Certified Degree of Indian Blood. The Federal Government and its officers can issue certificates of Indian blood.

Certified Degree of Indian Blood  (CDIB) -- a record of the blood quantum for an individual Indian.

Cherokee by Blood --

Claims Commission --

Commissioner of Indian Affairs --

Confederacy --

Confederation --

Consolidation --

D[edit | edit source]

Dawes Commission - The U.S. Congress approved the act on March 3, 1893. The purpose was to negotiate treaties with the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indian tribes. The aim was to divide tribal land into plots which were then distributed to approved members of the tribe.

Dawes Roll -- the enrollment record for the Five Civilized Tribes, compiled between 1895 and 1914.

Day Schools --

Degree of Indian Blood -- The percentage of Indian blood in an individual, ranging from "full blood" to a fractional amount, calculated from the degree of blood from the parents.

E[edit | edit source]

Eastern Cherokee

Enrollment Records  -- the federal government wanted to classify all Indians into a tribe for the purpose of negotiating treaties with the various Indian tribes.  One example is the Dawes Commission.

Emigration Rolls

F[edit | edit source]

Factory -- another name for a trading post; the name was used primarily in the United States between 1800 and 1825.

Federally Recognized Tribal Entities --

Five Civilized Tribes -- a loose federation of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes formed in 1859 in what is now Oklahoma

Freedman -- term applied to African-American slaves held by members of the Five Civilized Tribes, or former slaves who lived among them

G[edit | edit source]

General Allotment Act of 1887 -- An Act passed by the United States government by which specific parcels of land were allotted to individual Indians on many of the reservations.

Guion Miller rolls

H[edit | edit source]

I[edit | edit source]

Indian Schools --

Indian Trust and Accounting Division (ITAD) -- An agency of the federal government that may request the transfer of records from one Federal Archive Record Center to another.

Individual History Card -- To assist in determining relationships for allotments and Heirship for estates.

Individual Money Ledgers (IIM) -- Allotment ledger sheets.

J[edit | edit source]

K[edit | edit source]

L[edit | edit source]

M[edit | edit source]

Missions --

N[edit | edit source]

Nation -- after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, a term often used to mean a tribe which had organized under that Act

O[edit | edit source]

Office of Indian Affairs -- the forerunner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

Office of Indian Trade -- Established in 1806 with capital to provide goods to Indians for manufacturing and resale of goods. This agency continued until the year 1822.

P[edit | edit source]

Q[edit | edit source]

R[edit | edit source]

Rancheria -- a term used almost exclusively in California for a small reservation, often to describe a parcel of land purchased by a tribe and subsequently recognized by the federal or state government.

Register of Families --

Removal --  an official U.S. government policy in the early to mid-1800s, intended to remove American Indians from areas where conlfict between them and non-Indian settlers may have arisen.

Reservation -- a parcel of land reserved by the United States government upon which a tribe or tribes were to reside.

S[edit | edit source]

Sanitary Record of Sick, Injured, Births, Deaths, etc. --

Six Nations -- A confederacy of Eastern North Native American Tribes. League of Iroquois: Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida, Seneca, Onondaga, and Tuscarora.

Spoilation Claims -- a BIA record of affidavits of claimants and witnesses in support of losses by spoilation or damages suffered by Indians, arranged by claim number in chronological order, (1838-1839)

Subagency -- an office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs usually under the jurisdiction of an agency, serving a smaller jurisdiction than the agency.

Superintendency -- an office under the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, usually covering a specific locality, including a supervisory role over agencies and subagencies in that locality. The first began in 1792 the last was abolished in 1878. Superintendencies had general responsibility for Indian affairs in a geographic area, usually a territory; agents were immediately responsible for the one or more tribes. [1]

T[edit | edit source]

Termination --

Treaties -- agreements between governments and Indian tribes. There are treaties between tribes and the:

U.S. government
Canadian government
British government

Tribe -- a term applied by non-Indians to a group of Native Americans, usually of a common linguistic or cultural stock

U[edit | edit source]

V[edit | edit source]

W[edit | edit source]

Winter Count -- a pictorial record kept by the medicine man or tribal leader designated to keep a history of the happenings of the tribe. Some of the winter counts go back to the 1780s.

X[edit | edit source]

Y[edit | edit source]

Z[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Abbreviations as Found in Indian Records by E. Kay Kirkham