In order to discover and prove that you are blood-related to or, in genealogical terms, have a consanguineous relationship with, a Native American, you must begin a genealogical search. Tracing your family tree can be a daunting task. But if you know a little bit about the process, with the records typically kept for Native American people, some specific dates, and a few handy tips, it is possible to find the Native American ancestry you are looking for.
Process & Records
Begin with finding records of your own existence. This is key as it leads to the records of your parents and their parents and so forth. Get as much information as you can and proof of your legal name, the date you were born, where you were born, and your parents' legal names. Some states and institutions request ethnicity status upon birth. That is also important. Note the ethnicity keyed to your birth.
Now that you've found your records, work backward, beginning with your parents, then your grandparents, using records found at your family home, records from the county recorder and hospital records, which can often be obtained with a signed release.
If you run out of traditional records and you haven't found the Native American anscestry you're searching for, go to nontraditional records. A common problem is the lack of records for Native American communities and the absence of a surname. But specific records are helpful for specific years. For records regarding a family member living in the 20th century, reference probate records, vital statistics and school census records. For ancestors who died before 1900, try church records, removal records and emigration rolls, tribal enrollment records, annuity rolls, land allotment records and census rolls for both American Indian and federal lands. These records are available from a variety of places, varying by state and county. Check with your state or county's local Indian Affairs Bureau or your local library for assistance locating records.
If you find yourself stuck, try combing family photo albums for photos with names, dates and places on the backs. Cross reference these with names you already have. Missing names or inconsistencies can help connect parts of your family tree.
- There are several websites dedicated to genealogical research, including Familysearch.org, Usgenweb.org, and Ancestry.org. Make use of these sights to help you get started, to fill in gaps, or to inquire about specific records. Note that some of these sites charge a fee for use.
- Rootsweb; How to Search for Native American Ancestors
- California Native American Heritage Commission
- "Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History"; Megan Smolenyak; 2010
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images