Difference between revisions of "American Indians Beginning Your Search"

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As you&nbsp;are searching the records you should keep theses tips and suggestions in mind.<br>
 
As you&nbsp;are searching the records you should keep theses tips and suggestions in mind.<br>
  
'''Name Changes'''
+
'''Name Changes'''  
  
 
American Indians usually are known by more than one name throughout their lifetime. Here are some examples of common changes that may apply to your ancestor:  
 
American Indians usually are known by more than one name throughout their lifetime. Here are some examples of common changes that may apply to your ancestor:  
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*Part of your ancestor's name may have been droped.
 
*Part of your ancestor's name may have been droped.
  
As you are searching the records you may need to search for different names or multiple names depending on the type of record and the time period.
+
As you are searching the records you may need to search for different names or multiple names depending on the type of record and the time period.  
  
<br>'''Create a Timeline'''
+
<br>'''Create a Timeline'''  
  
You may find it helpful to created a timeline for your ancestor. To do this
+
It is helpful to know what events are happening during the lifetime of your ancestor as these events may cause records to made about your family. These events may be political, social, or geological such as:
 +
 
 +
*A war
 +
*A major earthquake, fire, or tornado
 +
*An epidemic such as Small Pox
 +
*A change in president or governor
 +
*Creation of new laws such as laws requiring the registration of births, marriages, and deaths
 +
*A religious group or missionaries coming into the area
 +
 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
You may find it helpful to create a timeline for your ancestor including the important dates in your ancestor's life&nbsp;along with the other&nbsp;pertinent events. You may find
  
 
Records may have been lost or destroyed  
 
Records may have been lost or destroyed  

Revision as of 19:36, 14 September 2010

Beginning Your Search

Many families include the tradition of American Indian ancestry. Some families have an established connection to a recognized Indian tribe, but most do not. Before you can search federal and tribal records you must have a tribal affiliation.

Begin your search, by asking other family members for any information they may have about your ancestor’s tribe. You may find that different family members have different information. This is common in oral family traditions. Write down this information along with the source of the information such as:

  • The family member's name and contact information (phone number, address, etc.)
  • The reference information for a book (Name, author, call number, library or archive, and page number)
  • The name and URL of a web site  

Known Tribal Affiliations

If your family knows the tribe and which ancestors belonged to the tribe, follow these suggestions.

Learn About the Tribe

Information or facts about your tribe can be very important in locating and using the records so you will need to learn about your tribe. These pieces of informaiton may include the following:

  • Tribal customs such as inheritance customs
  • Oral genealogies 
  • Naming patterns
  • Assigned reservations and agencies
  • Migration patterns and native lands
  • Treaties signed
  • Historical connections with a particular church or sect

Records About the Tribe

You will need to learn what records were made about your tribe. Many people believe that there are few or no records of American Indians. Actually American Indians are some of the most tracked and recorded people in America. You will want to check to see which records were created for your tribe. These records were usually made by one of the following:

  • The Federal Government such as the War Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), or an agency
  • A State Government
  • A special commission such as the Dawes Commission
  • The tribe

These records may include some or all of the following types of records:

Find the Records

Once you have learned which record types exist for your family you will need to locate the record collection that may include your family. The best places to find records of American Indians are:

  • The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The National Archives Record Centers
  • University libraries
  • State archives and libraries
  • Tribal archives and libraries
  • The internet

The catalog for these libraries and archives will list the records in their collection. Many of these catalogs are now available on-line and may be searched for free. Many of the records in these collections are also available on-line however, you may need to pay a fee to search the records on-line.

 

Other records may only be available at the library and must be searched in person. Check the library's web site or check with the library for their research policy. If you cannot search the records in person, ask of a list of preferred or accredited researchers who maybe able to search on your behalf. Be aware that a fee will probably be involved if you ask someone else to do the searches for you.

Searching the Records

As you are searching the records you should keep theses tips and suggestions in mind.

Name Changes

American Indians usually are known by more than one name throughout their lifetime. Here are some examples of common changes that may apply to your ancestor:

  • The name of your ancestor may have changed from one Indian name to a different Indian name.
  • The name of your ancestor may have changed from an Indian name to a Christian name.
  • The name of your ancestor may have been abreviated.
  • Part of your ancestor's name may have been droped.

As you are searching the records you may need to search for different names or multiple names depending on the type of record and the time period.


Create a Timeline

It is helpful to know what events are happening during the lifetime of your ancestor as these events may cause records to made about your family. These events may be political, social, or geological such as:

  • A war
  • A major earthquake, fire, or tornado
  • An epidemic such as Small Pox
  • A change in president or governor
  • Creation of new laws such as laws requiring the registration of births, marriages, and deaths
  • A religious group or missionaries coming into the area


You may find it helpful to create a timeline for your ancestor including the important dates in your ancestor's life along with the other pertinent events. You may find

Records may have been lost or destroyed

Where the records are stored may have changed.


 

 

Begin your search in the records by becoming familiar with how the records are arranged and by looking for a name index. If the records do have an index, search it first. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned. You will also need to keep in mind that your ancestor's name may have changed.

When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:
• The county where the marriage occurred.
• The name of the person at the time of marriage.
• The approximate marriage date.
• The marriage place.
• The name of the intended spouse.

Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the marriage records. Compare the information in the marriage record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.

When you have located your ancestor’s marriage record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
• Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
• Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
• Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
• Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
• Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
• Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
• The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
• Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom, this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
• Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
• Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
• When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

Keep in mind:
• The information in marriage records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
• Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
• There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.

If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
• Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
• Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.
• Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
• Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Searching Tips

Here are some tips and suggestions that you may find helpful as you are searching for your ancestors.

 

Tribal Affiliation Unknown

If your family does not know your ancestor's tribe you will need to search non-Indian records where your ancestor lived until you can establish their tribe.

Related Wiki Articles

Portal:American Indian

Portal:American Indian/American Indians by State

Portal:American Indian/Canada