Dawes Commission Enrollment Records for Five U.S. Indian Tribes

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A Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles, also called the Dawes Commission after its chairman, Senator Dawes, was established by Congress in 1893. Its purpose was to exchange Indian tribal lands in the southeastern United States for new land allotments to individuals in Oklahoma. More than 250,000 people applied to this commission for enrollment and land. Just over 100,000 were approved. The rolls do not include the applications that were rejected, stricken, or judged to be doubtful. Those found eligible for the final rolls were entitled to an allotment of land, usually as a homestead.

Today these five tribes continue to use the Dawes Rolls as the basis for determining tribal membership. They usually require applicants to provide proof of descent from a person who is listed on these rolls.

Use the Dawes Commission Enrollment Records if your ancestor was a member of one of the five tribes in the southeastern United States and was 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. Records of the commission include the following.

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 the letter, file number, date received, subject, and action taken. Letters are with the applications.

You can find an excellent tutorial about the Dawes Rolls is on the National Archives (U.S.) site.

The Dawes Rolls are the basis for determining Native American tribal membership in the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes. They usually require applicants to provide proof of descent from a person who is listed on these rolls.

The Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory applications show the enrollee's name, gender, and blood degree. The rolls are arranged by application number. Search an index to find the number if you do not know it. You can search an online index on the National Archives (U.S.) page. The Family History Library also has film copies of the index and roll.

You can also find more information on these and other Indian rolls by clicking here.