Am I Native American? How to Find My Indian Ancestors – Native American Genealogy

By Paul G on July 27, 2012
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Finding Your Native American Heritage

Many people in the US and Canada have at least one Indian ancestral line in their family.  Lots of people grew up hearing the family legend about a family member that was Native American.  Proving that legend to be true or false can be tough.  There is very little official records about early Native American. Starting your search on Native American Genealogy can be very challenging.

You will need to build a family tree using a multitude of resources. Research the deaths, births and marriages of your family.  Use these records to build links from yourself back to your ancestors.

Next research documents that record Native Americans.

In some years the United States conducted separate censuses of Native Americans. In 1896 a Congressional law was passed that gave the Dawes Commission authority to oversee applications for tribal citizenship into the Five Civilized Tribes – Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.

Proving that you are related to a Native American is only the first step to being enrolled with a tribe.  In the US there are over 500 federally recognized tribes.  Each tribe has their own requirements for enrollment.  Use our Native American Tribal Directory to contact your tribe for more information.

Start your search now!

Begin building your family tree by using’s tool.  Try FREE with a 14-Day Free Trial!


Native American Genealogy Articles on


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TOPICS: Blog, Featured, Native American Genealogy, Native American History

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27 Responses to “Am I Native American? How to Find My Indian Ancestors – Native American Genealogy”

  1. John Garcia Jr. says:

    My family members recently obtained DNA samples from our last living Aunt. Preliminary results show our Grandmother was Pima. Results on our Grandfather are pending. We have a census from 1940 which shows our grandparents and children listed as “indian”. How valad are these “proofs” if presented to enroll the family?

    • Paul G says:

      Most tribes require documented links to people on previous rolls like the Dawes Roll. DNA tests are a way to tell your genetic breakdown. But they are not considered legal proof for enrollment.

  2. John Garcia Jr. says:

    Recently my family obtained a DNA sample and submitted it for analysis. Premiminary findings showed our Grandmother to be of Pima origin. Our Grandfather is pending. We also have a 1940 census showing our Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles as “indian” with no tribal indication. Our verbal history from our Grandparents is that, “We are Apache”. With the DNA and census info, would this be valid proof for enrollment?

  3. jentela says:

    i just found out im 25% percent indan i grew up going to powows and i loved them

  4. Shawn Wichita says:

    Zero history for me, only Pahsetopah side. Wha-Zha-Zhi

  5. Laura says:

    I know that my ancestors are Native American but no one is exactly sure of the tribe. Is there a way to find out by the way my great great grandmother was dressed in an old picture?

  6. Aisha Horton Bell-Donaldson says:

    Hello. With my family history, I am not sure if I am a native american. My grandmother was a mixture of black and blackfoot, my grandfather was full blackfoot. I do not know what that makes my father and my mother is black. Is there someway that I will be able to tell if I am a blackfoot indian?

  7. Kate Lofton says:

    I don’t think there is any help for my situation. I can’t afford to pay a specialist eiher. is no help either. I’ve basically reached a dead end. Kate Lofton (Stone) (1855-1944) is my great great grandmother on my mother’ side. I’ve always been told she was Cherokee/French. My grandmother Lillian Ida Stone (Massey) was always proud of her Native American roots. As a child I was exposed to the American Indian culture by my grandmother. I don’t think she was part of any tribe. Infact, she mostly hung out with the Navajo’s in New Mexico since she lived there a lot. But she didn’t care that they were not the same race as her as long as she could still be part of the American Indian culture. I did find a Kate Stone on the Guion Miller rolls but no idea if it is her or not. Stone was her married name to her 4th husband. She died in Louisiana, where she speant most of her life. On the death index, they did not know her race.. it said White or Mexican. I thought that was funny since we have no Mexican blood in our family but I guess since was brown or tan, they were not sure. Personally I would just like to know the real truth and I cannot seem to find it anywhere. There are plenty of google searches for her and all say the same thing, that she was Cherokee.. some say she was adopted after her mother died.. some say she went to visit family once in Oklahoma.. told her husband’s family she was Cherokee. I’m not even 100% sure who her mother and father were or even where she was born. I do have her photo. I have a lot of info about her life as an adult but nothing as a child. I guess I should just let it go but it’s hard to.. I just need to know, hard to explain why. It’s almost like her mother and her/my ancesters whoever they are want to be remembered.. to not be forgotten… as they have been for so long. Thanks to anyone who feels inspired to help. My name is KateLofton.

    • Kate Lofton says:

      Hi, just wanted to update my post. I did check the Guion Miller roll but it was not my great great grandmother. I didn’t think it would be since I don’t know for sure who her parents are. Thanks in advance for any help that comes my way.

  8. Kate Lofton says:

    Hi again, it seems that my great great grandmother Kate Lofton (Stone) is not the same Kate Stone listed in the Guion Miller rolls index. Infact, that application was made by a slave and rejected. None of the family information on the actual application matched my great great grandmother. I didn’t think I would find much but at least I thought I would look in case. Sighs.. maybe one day I’ll know the truth.

  9. Kate Lofton says:

    One more thing, this particular Kate Stone listed in Guion Miller rolls seemed to be half Cherokee but they rejected her application because she was born into slavery. That seems unfair. Her descendents today should challenge that if possible.

  10. Josefina Lopez says:

    I have a picture of my great grandmother in full head gear and clothing of an unknown tribe. she died when my grandmother was very young and we have no information on her. The name we were given is not coming up on anything. Her name was Santos Ornelas. Is there any way for someone to look at the pic and at least tell what direction to go in. It is almost like she is a ghost. No information about her marrying my great grandfather exist or her being the mother of my grandmother.

  11. Doreen Roy says:

    My mother was status from the Nipissing First Nations in Ontario Canada, and my father is Metis.

  12. Beverly Nelms says:

    As far as I know I have no native ancestors. My Grandfather, Ben Abbott and his family lived near Tonkawa, OK from the late 1800′s through the 1940s. He worked in the Three Sands oil fields.
    He told me his mother died when he was a baby and his father married a native woman. She died when he was a young teenager. He never knew her name and no one in the family would talk about her later.
    He said she was shy and beautiful and very kind. He said he didn’t think any of them would have lived through childhood without her there.
    I doubt there is any way to find her family, but it felt right to have our family finally publicly acknowledge her and her kindness.

  13. Yvette Arredondo says:

    I’m trying to find information about Larry or lawrence Reyes his father was Innocent or Inocente Reyes and they’re to be full blooded Shonshone but from where are what tribe is unknown to me or his 3 daughters that he had with Amelia Rodriguez back in the mid 40′s. Larry left Orange County Calif in the 50′s or early 60′s with another woman with whom he 2 or 3 sons. All are said to have died in seperately in Oregon. I know Larry had bothers and a sister. Helen Bleeker had since passed but if anyone has info on Larry Reyes please contact me.

  14. Meredith says:

    Are there any adoption or other records etc of Native Americans/Canadian babies around the end 1800s,start 1900s.

  15. Audricka Ezernack Young says:

    Wondering if anyone can help me with info. on the Ebarb. tribe of Louisiana. this is not yet a federal reconized tribe. But is by the state. i am very interested in learning. the facts about the Ezernacks that. are regarded as founding members. Thank you!!!

  16. april ramos castoreno says:

    My grandparents julia Rodriguez and and her husband Edwardo Ramos were registered natives. I believe that they are mescalaro apache of Fort Worth ,Texas. My grandparents had a large family nineteen in all. Petra ,Sophia,Pollene,Maria,Daniel,Herman,Ines.I know my grandfather had a twin brother. If you know any of my family and have information about the native heritage please contact me. I want my children to know there native background,before I go. I am interested to know why we were always told to deny being native,and answer if asked that we we’re Mexican from a Texas.

  17. Shawn Sweat says:

    Hard to trace Native American ancestry. Cheifs should of made it easier for the Eastern Appalachia Native American to find lol… Indian Cheifs Present

    Abraham Aroghiadecka Onohario Kanadagaya Kayenqueregoa Kendrick Tobarihoga &c &c &c.

    The Bunt Diaquanda Tawawshughti Tewawmit &c. &c.

    Guastrax Odongot &c &c &c.

    Ganaghquieson Senughsis Tagawaron Nicholasera Cajuheta &c &c &c.

    Tagaaia Atrawawna Skanarady &c &c &c

    Saquarcesera Kanigot Tyagawehe &c &c &c


    Killbuck Turtleheart ..

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