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!


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

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52 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.

    • C Avalos says:

      Natives were treated horribly, to say the least. The conquistadors would kidnap and rape women. The “Indian population” was a “problem” as they stood in the way of valuable land. Stating that one was “white” or “from Texas” could have been the words that saved their life. Just to give you an idea, the next generation of people (late 1700s) were referred to as “Mestizo” if they were a mix of Indian and European. The goal was to eventually rid this continent of Indians so that Spain could rule.

  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 ..

  18. Angela Flores Trevino says:

    I have heard of rumors that our Grandfather Jesus Flores married to Maryhelen Trevino was native American but do not know what tribe. Would love to know his heritage and that of our grandmother too. They use to live in south Texas. Have checked and no luck. So I’m here looking for some help.

  19. athena says:

    every one keeps telling me that if your ancestor isnt on the dawes roll then there isnt a roll number or they wasnt on any of the rolles ect my great grndfather and grandfather started a roll and i have it right along with my whole family so im a little confused and nw im doing research on my husbands side and have found some names that match his family tree but cant find out if its the right ones or the tribes is all ive been told is one of his great grandmothers was a minor slave on the chickasaw freedman minor roll and i havent been able to find a place to search the affiliate numbers film numbers ect also found where her husband his great grandfather was listed as living in indian territory but cant seem to link that to any land alottment

    • C Avalos says:

      Try to go one or two more generations back. I figured out that an individual who lived on Indian Territory does not necessarily mean they received a land grant under their name or were Indian. They could have been a laborer, living with family, boarding with people, etc.

  20. Kate says:

    I’ve bee told that my great grandmother was Native American but we don’t know what tribe she was from and ancestry didn’t have any information.

  21. Juliet Bickert says:

    My maternal Grandmother, Lucy Sulier was a full-blooded French Canadian Native person. I was told the building housing the records in North Dakota where she lived burned down. Is there another way for me to find out more about this part of my ancestry? Any guidance would be appreciated.
    Thank you in advance,
    Juliet Bickert

  22. Anna S. Edwards says:

    It has been a difficult road for all of us looking for information. I researched for years, never found anything. I do remember talking to my grandfather and grandmother and other relatives who told me of our Cherokee heritage. My grandmother was also a mixture of white and Indian, but not so sure which tribes. I live in Virginia and in the 1920 – 1930 era our Virginia Indians were destroyed on paper, and birth/death certificates were changed to either white or black. Many midwives were urged to write the records this way (my great grandmother was an herbalist and a midwife). The area my Dad’s folks came from is right smack dab in the middle of the eastern area of Cherokee country. Lots of family stories confirm all the same. One story even tells about my great great grandmother walking from North Carolina to see her daughter (my great grandmother)in Wise County, Virginia, singing and talking to herself in Cherokee. I have resigned myself that I will probably never know the real truth.

    Thanks for letting me stand on my soap box for a while.

  23. angela carter says:

    hi, my name is angela carter. i have a great granny that was native american. my granny has a pic of her wearing those two long braids. i have been told all my life that we were part blackfoot. well after a lil research i found out where she lived in ohio…blackfoot was a general term given to many tribes. i googled some images of a random tribe, haliwa-saponi…and a pic of a lady that looks like she could be my granny’s twin. almost exactly. i tried to contact the tribe…no luck. i realize that many black indians were labeled as black on the birth records because they had dark skin…this makes it very difficult to find more info. i dont know what i should do next. her name was sadie boone (boone is her married name…i dont know her maiden name)i can find out from my uncle i believe. help please

  24. gayle says:

    I am. Ot in contact with my biological father but have been told I’m colville indian and apache. Now that I have my own family I’d like to know where we come from. Where do we start to track our heritage? Would you all recommend

  25. Jamie K Oxendine says:

    Hello to all that have commented on this article and have asked many, many questions. Unfortunately we cannot answer all your questions about searching your genealogy. We hope that you use this article and other papers here at to help you as a place to hopefully start. Here is a good one to read:

    Genealogy is a long and hard and often complicated task. Remember follow the search for all it may lead and if you are truly aware of what Native Nation make sure to contact them but be very nice friendly and cordial. You have to remember that Native American Nations get literally hundreds of calls, letters and e-mails about Native American Genealogy every day.

  26. Lola Ruth Campbell says:

    Hello my name is Lola I’m 31 and I’m trying to find any info on Patrick A Campbell of Denton Tax I was made aware his family might have been Cherokee Choctaw and Blackfoot Souix his dad Sydney L was born in Kansas I believe but grew up in Santa Cruz my Granny bonnie jean OK city I never knew my dad or his family any info would be a blessing… and to miss Loft on I would research your Anglo surnames there are a variety of spelling but all traceable to a country or clan or line of work your ancestor very well could have been a Melungeon which are a Portuguese and mulatto group found a lot in Louisiana and Appalachia famous Melungeon includes Elivis Presley and they tend to resemble Native or mulatto or both might research your Anglo surnames then Melungeon possibility and it might help your quest I agree ancestry .com is a crock and I’m trying to find my family I took basic info I got from them and I’m doing better on my own to a point gathering info to understand but its still hard..anyway any info on my dad’s family be a help and just incase any of my dads family sees this if your family was missing a cousin for 30 years I wasn’t missing just misplaced that’s all anyway thank you and God bless Sincerely Lolaruth

  27. Michelle Law says:

    Well after hearing all my life that we have Native American ancestors, I had a DNA test run for and it shows no evidence at all. So I must apologize for all the posts I’ve ever made claiming that I have/had any. I am disappointed to say the least but I have often said that I wanted to follow the truth so now I have it no matter what my desire to be is. I will always believe that we would have a better country and cleaner world if we had assimilated into the native culture instead of the forcing our way in and taking over. I do have native relatives through marriages in or family tree but if DNA tests are accurate, then no direct decedents. I’m still native at heart and spirit though. So mote it be.

  28. Rebecca Gonzalez says:

    My brother did a DNA test.Found out we are 43 percent Indian. How do we find out what kind? Its like frustrating, not knowing were you come from. Mother and father are dead. Grandmother and Grandfather all dead. Can any one help me, We figured were from the Appatchie Nation.

  29. Joseph Ray Lewis says:

    What I am trying to find out where I go to find out my genealogy.
    Because it has been done and it goes back a long ways..
    I know my family of… Lewis goes back to the Civil War.
    And too little big horn and further.
    But my father has passed on.
    And I am trying to find out where I can get copies of that genealogy that he had done.

  30. Joseph Ray Lewis says:

    The genealogy that I am looking for work .
    Show us that we are porch Creek from Montgomery Alabama.
    And that is from my grandfather and his from his parents.
    So how do I find out about the genealogy that was done by my father. And there is more and my grandmother as Indian and her from Texas.

  31. Kelly Suire says:

    My aunt told me her grandmother told her that her grandmother was a “Tahoe” indian from the Red River area. Some of the ancestors lived in Indian Bayou, LA during one of the censuses. Has anyone heard of this tribe, or can you point me in the right direction? I can’t even find a Tahoe tribe in Tahoe (it’s Washoe). I would like to me for genealogical/family purposes. Thank you.

    • Kelly Suire says:

      Have now been informed by an Uncle that he was told it was actually Cherokee. The name I have is either Lucretia or Chryssa Morgan and she had 3 children by JB Theall but no record of actual marriage (although he was married to 3 other woman). Does anyone have any information on this? Or know how I can find out? Thank you.

  32. Sabrina says:

    Hello ! I’m Native American and on both sides of my family are white and indian … I’m looking for help ! My family say they are cheorkee but the cheorkee never came to nc I was told … So Im stuck between Cherokee and Tuscarora …. which one would it be ????? I have high cheek bones … My grandfather is a sampson and my grandma is a Strickland …. And my other grandma is hunt ….. All of them are from robco nc

  33. Dillon Lee Etheridge jr says:

    I need help to find out what kind of American Indian i have in me. I Heard that I am Cherokee but now i may be ipatche or something else diffrent I just don’t know.I know my great grandmas name on my dads dads side.

  34. jessica florez also known as jauriqui says:

    I’m a apache native american from my father side I’m was adopted from a mexican family I need to know more we’re I’m from and more about were I came from…

  35. Ernie says:

    I have 2 photos of relatives Eastern Cherokee and my mother taken in late 70’s. Unsure of names.

  36. RJD1959 says:

    We just did a DNA test and found my adopted son is 27% Native American….this is his predominant ethnicity. Frankly, we are pleasantly surprised…Since we have little to no hope of knowing who his biological father is or tracing his tribe, is there anything I should do or could do….?

  37. wayland says:

    a lot good information on here. my situation is the same know family tree a couple pic a few stores about my gram-pap and my dad wouldn’t get served at bars in Nebraska and my mom was call a Nazi witch she was 3 year old when world war 2 was go on and no one would talk about it witch there all die now so there you go i got DNA TEST am doing that but where do i go for there.. it would be appreciate

  38. Rebecca Simmons Thompson says:

    I am trying to learn how to find out about my family native American background. My great grand father was black foot and my grandmother was Cherokee. We are from Central Mississippi. It has been hard due to the fact i don’t know my relatives on my father side that are mainly Indians. A lot of them are decease. I have tried family search and they are not listed. Can anyone help?

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