Indians of the United States and Their Records
The native people who lived on the North American continent at the time of the first contact with European explorers and settlers were called Indians by the Europeans. They lived in famililies which often grouped themselves together in larger bodies, often given the name of tribes by the newcomers. For the purpose of studying the native population, they can be divided into classifications of different-sized groups -- Indians of North America, Indians of the United States, Indians of Canada, Indians of a particular state or province, or by individual tribes. All of these levels will be represented in this wiki. This article will begin to present the history and records of groups in the United States.
American Indian History
The following events effected the American Indian way of life, determined polical and geographic boundries, and the records to be kept.
1710: Tuscarora indians petitioned the Pennsylvania provincial government to move to Pennsylvania from their home in North Carolina, as the were losing their land and being enslaved by white settlers.
1711-1712: Angered at losing their land and being enslaved the Tuscarora aided by Coree, Pamlico, Machapunga and other tribes fought the colonists.
1712-1713: Second Tuscarora War in North Carolina; the Tuscarora migrated north to join the Iroquois Confederacy.
1715: Chickasaw and Cherokee Indians formed an alliance to drive the Shawnee Indians out of the Cumberland Valley of Maryland and Pennsylvania into the Kentucky-Tennessee area.
1723: The First permanent school for Indians in the British colonies was opened at William and Mary College in WIlliamsburg, Virginia. The school was maintained by funds left for the purpose by the British scientist Robert Boyle, one of the founders of modern chemistry.
1751: The Delaware Indians left Pennsylvania to live among the Huron Indians in Ohio.
1754-1763: The French and Indian War, fought by the British and their Indian allies against the French and their Indian allies. The Iroquois Six-Nation Confederacy allied with the British, many Algonquian tribes sided with the French.
1758: The first Indian reservation was established in New Jersey in Burlington County. Edge Pillock a 3,000 acre tract was settled by mostley Unami Indians.
1763: The Proclamation of 1763 was issued by the British, forbidding settlers to move across the Appalachian watershed into Indian Lands.
1763: The Calusa Indians of Florida were forced to migrate to Cuba when the British gained control of the area.
1775: The Continental Congress created three departments of Indian affairs- northern, middle, southern and appointed eleven commissioners including Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry to staff these departments.
1775: The education of Indian youth at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, was the object of a five hundred dollar appropriation by the American Continental Congress on July 12. The amount was raised to five thousand dollars five years later. Dartmouth had been an outgrowth of Moor's Indian Charity School, founded by the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock in Connecticut in about 1754 providing a free school where Indian and white children could be educated together.
1775: Treaty of Sycamore Shoals -- the Transylvania Land Company acquired 20 million acres of Cherokee land.
1775-1783: The Indians of eastern North America were drawn to both sides of the American Revolution. The colonists made efforts to secure neutrality a bit unsuccessful as the Indians reasoned that an American victory would result in more settlers moving into their lands. The Oneida Indians were the largest group to support the American cause. The American colonists did borrow some military methods from the Indians: fighting from cover, camouflage, ambush, harassment, and other guerrilla tactics.
1778: The Delaware Indians became the first tribe to sign a treaty with the United States, at Fort Pitt (Pittsburg) on September 17
1779: General John Sullivan and 4,000 troops were sent to neutralize the Iroquois Confederacy tribes who were aiding the British in western Pennsylvania and New York. Forty Indian towns were burned and one hundred sixty thousand bushels of corn and other crops were destroyed. The Iroquois Confederacy never recovered.
1783: The purchase of land from Indians by a private person without the permission of the U.S. Congress was prohibited in a Congressional proclamation September 22)
1783: The Mohawk Indian Chief Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) who fought with the British during the American Revolution, led a group of people to Ontario, Canada, where they were given a tract of land to settle six miles wide on each side of the Grand River.
1787: Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the federal government reserved the power: "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes..."
1830: Indian Removal Act passed by Congress, authorizing the removal of Indians in the eastern United States to be removed to land west of the Mississippi River.
The first contact of European settlers with the native population created a mutual and natural curiosity. Establishing relationships required trust and understanding. The mind-set of the European settlers became one of converting the natives to Christianity and the European way of life.
Before the establishment of the federal government, Indian affairs was handled by each colony or at the local level. The administration of Indian affairs was placed under the jurisdiction of the War Department early in the history of the United States. It was later transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs as part of the Department of the Interior.
There was a general recognition that the Native Americans had “title” (pre-emption rights or rights of first occupation) to the land. Efforts were made to “extinguish” those property rights by purchase and by treaty. Treaties included stipulations for the payment of benefits in exchange for the surrender of the property rights. Provision was sometimes made to reserve areas for hunting, fishing and burial Later treaties also provided for the removal of the Native Americans from their home lands to unsettled areas and/or reservations.
From 1795 to 1822, the official policy was to trade with the Indians through “factories,” or government owned trading houses. More than 20 such factories were established and records were kept by them.
Eventually, most of the American Indians, by policy of the federal government (and in a few instances, state governments), were confined to reservations.
With the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act (also known as the Wheeler-Howard Act) in 1934, American Indian Tribes set up their own tribal governments. Many of these tribal governments began recording vital records, tribal enrollment records and other records of value to genealogists.
Each government policy caused records to be created. The desire to "Christianize" the Indians led to records of the efforts of the respective denominations. Extinguishing property rights led to Indian deeds and to treaties in which the Indians gave up their property rights. Treaties often led to annuity rolls, or record of payments to the Native Americans.
The movement of groups of American Indians from one locality to another led to removal records or emigration records.
The management of reservations by agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs produced a variety of records – Indian census rolls, allotment (land) records, school records, health records, vital records and a number of other documents.
Most of the records discussed in this article are those created by the federal government. American Indians were also included in other non-agency records such as the general population schedules of the Census Bureau, local deed books, military records, and many others.
After the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934, and in some cases earlier, tribes established governments which administered the affairs of the tribe and created records. These records often include enrollment records, vital statistics, tribal court records, employment records, minutes of meetings, etc.
Educational institutions have also studied the history, culture, and language of Indian tribes. Oral histories have been gathered from individuals.
Personal and business records of individual Indians have also been gathered by historical societies and museums. Many of these records remain in the possession of the families.
The Tribes of the United States
Many "tribes" have existed in what is now the United States. Some have existed and become extinct. Some are federally recognized. Some are state-recognized. And some exist without official recognition. It is important to determine the tribal affiliation of supposed ancestors, since most of the records are associated with the tribe. If the tribal connection of an ancestor is unknown, sometimes it can be determined by determining the residence of the ancestor and studying the history of that locality to determine what tribe resided in that locality. There are several lists of tribes available for various localities -- country, state, or local.
Native Tribes of the United States (includes federally and state recognized) -- http://www.dickshovel.com/trbindex.html
Indian Tribes of the United States -- http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tribes/
- Deloria, Vine, ed. American Indian Policy in the Twentieth Century. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992.
- Smith, Jane F. And Robert M Kvasnicka, eds. Indian-White Relations: A Persistent Paradox. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1976.