Monday, September 11, 2023

Must Love: Rejected Native American Tribal Applications

The Basics
As with all ancestral research, the largest benefit is uncovering your ancestors.  The Federal government does not hold a comprehensive list of Cherokee Indian persons. So you must do the legwork to uncover your heritage. A paper trail of birth certificates, death and marriage certificates, and other documents may be found linking yourself to an enrolled ancestor. But for enrollment, each tribe has specific rules, and regulations that must be met. 
  1. not all Tribes or Nations are Federally recognized.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs lists all 574 federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives. 
  2. Prove your relationship to the tribe. So you will want to have sketched your pedigree to determine your possible blood quantum. Again, required amounts are determined by the enrolling tribe. This is not a qualifier for all Tribes. 
  3. Your ancestor could not have already been rejected.

Some Native American ancestors were accepted in a tribe, they may have even received benefits (i.e. land) but due to a breach later lost their enrollment in the tribe. 
Accepted and Enrolled 1880 and 1896; Rejected 1900 

Rejections may have occurred if your ancestor did the following
  • gave up their Native American enrollment to become an USA citizen (i.e. citizen of Oklahoma)
  • failed to remain in the territory when it may have been a requirement
  • non-Natives, or failure to prove. Sometimes ancestors were already noted as "Doubtful"!
  • unable to speak the Native language
Even settlers families may have lost their tribal rights.
Obit of Robert Lee Jordan, 1941
Know Tribal Requirements
Tribal benefits, rights, and finances, vary from tribe to tribe. Contrary to common belief, a Dawes Roll number is not a requirement for all Native American Tribes. Although many require at least 1/16th Native "blood" which could be gained from a great-great grandparent, the NY Native American Mohawks only recognize through a mother's enrollment. Then a 1/4 (25%) blood quantum must be proven. 

50% Parents
25% Grandparents
12.5% Great-Grandparents
6.25% Great-Great-Grandparents
3.125% Great-Great-Great-Grandparents
1.5625% Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents

To Say You are Cherokee is Not Enough
1874 Georgia rolls:

Even the following three Federally Recognized Cherokee tribes do not have the same requirements for enrollment:
  • Yes, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahomans must prove to be a descendent from a person on the Dawes Commission Roll. No blood quantum requirement. Your family may be on a rejected roll, but your ancestors shared quite a bit of ancestral information on these applications.  
  • United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee must prove to be descendent from a person on the Dawes Roll AND have minimum of 1/4 blood quantum.
  • Eastern Band of Cherokees of North Carolina must prove to be descendant from a person on the Baker Roll AND have a minimum of 1/16 blood quantum. Be sure to listen in on the podcast above.  These records are not only on the common database sites like, but researchers will find additional information on the National Archives digitized site:
A Few Reminders
  1. Verify that the tribe of interest, ancestral connection - is Federally recognized.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs website will assist with this research.
  2. Can DNA Help Prove My Native American Ancestry? Although there are markers that may indicate Native American bloodline, DNA testing does not verify specific tribes. And even though DNA spawns great genealogical interests, it alone isn't a tool for proving ancestral relationships. Not all tribes use a blood quantum Requirement: 
There are benefits of reviewing all the relevant applications. It is here that researchers can uncover a full family since many used the same ancestor to make their claim. By cross refencing applicants you may be able to discover inconsistencies between applicants. These inconsistencies often hold additional hints about your ancestors.  

Never overlook the full information once you find a rejected applicant.  It is through the text that their hometown may be discovered, as well as names of additional generations and names of spouses.

Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910, Noah Jordan

Other Vocabulary and Contacts
  • AIHEC = American Indian Higher Education Consortium:
  • BIA = US Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Education, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240-0001 You may also reach the bureau of Indian affairs at 1-800-332-9186)
  • BIE = Bureau of Indian Education; Bureau of Indian Education
  • CIB = certificate of Indian blood is or proof of membership with federally recognized tribes
Kathleen Brandt 
Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

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