At the time of the European settlement in what is now Alabama, the land was inhabited primarily by four tribal groups, the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw and the Creek. Some of these peoples were removed to the West in the 1830's, but many stayed and some were eventually absorbed into the general population.
Records of Native Americans have been kept by the tribal councils and by the Federal Government. The people who remained in the East, outside reservations, are found in the records of the general population, in most cases not listed as Indian.
The Heritage Room focuses on the four Alabama tribal groups with emphasis on the Cherokee in northern parts of Georgia and Alabama and the Choctaw and Chickasaw in Alabama and Mississippi.
Many of the records relating to the Cherokee from removal through the early 1900's are included in collections of microfilm from the National Archives. The film of the Letter-books from the Cherokee Agency in Tennessee, though not indexed, provides a wealth of information including emigration rolls for 1817-1836 and lists of Cherokees who died or were wounded in service to the United States at war against the Creeks. Removal census and property valuations are in our collection on film and in print. Film of the Miller and Dawes Enrollments provide family information of Cherokees who registered with the Federal Government at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Cherokee councils are located in Talequah, OK and Cherokee, NC.
Chickasaws and Choctaws
Similar records exist for the Chickasaws and Choctaws as for the Cherokees. Census were taken before removal and after the people arrived in Oklahoma in the 1830's. Later tribal census were taken in Mississippi as well as Oklahoma. The Choctaws maintain an official presence in Mississippi and Alabama.
The Chickasaws and Choctaws were included in the Dawes enrollment as were the Creeks and Seminoles. The Heritage Room has indexes for these tribes, but not a full run of their applications.
Choctaw councils are located in Durant, OK and Philadelphia, MS. The Chickasaw council is in Ada, OK.
Numerous records are available in print and through the internet. An excellent survey of Native American Family History research is found in The Source: a Guidebook of American Genealogy (Revised Edition) in Chapter 14, “Tracking Native American Family History” by Curt B. Witcher and George J. Nixon.
Some web sites for Native American research
These sites are just a few of the many available for Native American research.
- http://www.cherokee-nc.com (North Carolina)
- http://www.choctaw.org (Mississippi)
- http://aiac.state.al.us (Alabama Indian Affairs Commission)
Subject headings for Native American Family Research
- Indians of North America—Genealogy
- Indians of North America—Southern States—Genealogy
- Cherokee Indians
- Cherokee Indians—Genealogy
- Chickasaw Indians
- Chickasaw Indians—Genealogy
- Choctaw Indians
- Choctaw Indians—Genealogy