Indigenous Peoples of North America - A Beginner's Guide

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Native American Topics
Buffalo Hunt under the Wolf-Skin Mask
Beginning Research
Record Types
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Other Topics

Other Beginners' Guides

This is one of four pages of American Indian beginners' guides:

The following set of articles originally appeared as Indians of the United States and Canada, a research outline.

You may find some basic understanding of genealogical research procedures to be helpful. See A Guide to Research, and Principles of Family History Research.

Opportunities for genealogical research for Native Americans are good because more government records have been created for Indians than for any other Canadian or United States ethnic group. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is expanding its Native American collection, as are several other libraries and archives. Many Indian records are being digitized and made available online.

Choose an ancestor to research. Before proceeding with research, you need to choose a particular ancestor or family that you would like to know more about. The first step will be to identify all you can about this person or family in family sources. Then this wiki will help you research additional information about your ancestors and possibly extend their genealogy. Additional instructions and information are given under the following sections:

Part 1. How Do I Find Records About My Ancestors?[edit | edit source]

This section is the key to knowing what sources to search and in what order to answer your research questions.

Part 2. Has Someone Already Researched My Family?[edit | edit source]

This discusses many sources where you might find information compiled by other researchers. It includes databases, published genealogies, biographies, Internet sources, periodicals, and societies that have been established for helping genealogists. As you find information on earlier generations, return to this section to see if the earlier generation has been researched by others.

Part 3. What Records Can I Search?[edit | edit source]

Most of the information on Native American sources is found in this section. It is a description of each major source used in family history research for Native Americans, including Census Records; Land and Property Records; Enrollment Records; Probate Records; Emigration and Immigration Records; Court Records; School Records; Church Records; Medical Records; Military Records; Business Records and Commerce; Naturalization and Citizenship Records; Laws and Legislation; Newspapers; Vital Records; and Other Records. The sources are organized according to their value for genealogical research, the most important records being listed first. For strategies for the use of these different records during different periods of time, again refer to the section on How Do I Find Records About My Ancestors?

Part 4. What Should I Know About Native Americans before I Search the Records?[edit | edit source]

You will find background information about history, minorities, and reservations or reserves for Native Americans in this section. Read through this material before doing very much original research.

Part 5. Where Do I Find Records?[edit | edit source]

This section includes information about repositories where you will find original documents about your Native American ancestors. These repositories include the Family History Library, national archives in the United States and Canada, and other repositories including those in other countries.

Part 6. What Tools Can Help My Search?[edit | edit source]

This section gives information on dictionaries, gazetteers, maps, further reading, and a glossary. These reference tools can help identify places and help you read the records.

Related Article: Starting Native American Research.