In 1893 a Congressional law was passed that established what became known as the Dawes Commission. This Commission was responsible for negotiating agreements with the Five Civilized Tribes – the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. The agreements provided for the dissolution of the tribal governments and the allotment of land to each tribal member.
In 1898 the Commission began preparing tribal membership rolls which were the basis for the land allotment. In the years following, the Commission oversaw applications for tribal citizenship. In 1907 the tribal membership rolls were officially closed. However, under a 1914 act, an additional 312 individuals were enrolled.
What is Included in This Database:
This database contains the citizenship enrollment cards, sometimes referred to as census cards, which were prepared by the Commission. Individuals were enrolled as citizens of tribes according to the following categories:
- By blood
- By marriage
- Newborns, by blood
- Minors, by blood
- Freedmen (former black slaves of Indians)
- Newborn freedmen
- Minor freedmen
- Delaware Indians adopted into the Cherokee tribe
Within each enrollment category, the cards were organized according to status – “Straight” for applications that were approved, “D” for applications that were doubtful or questionable, and “R” for applications that were rejected. Eventually all of the “D” cards were moved into the “Straight” and “R” categories.
The enrollment cards contain information provided in the applications. Information listed may include:
- Name of applicant
- Enrollment number
- Degree of Indian blood
- Relation to the head of family
- Parents’ names
- References to enrollment on earlier rolls
- References to family related enrollment cards
- Notations about vital events
- Notations about actions taken by the Commission
This database also contains the Final Rolls, or lists of individuals approved by the Commission for citizenship, as well as the Index to the Final Rolls. Information listed in the Final Rolls includes:
- Dawes’ roll number
- Degree of blood
- Census card number (also known as the enrollment card number)
The Index to the Final Rolls is organized according to tribe and enrollment categories. There under individuals are listed in rough alphabetical order according to surname. Information listed in the index includes:
- Dawes’ roll number
How to Search This Database:
From the Index to the Final Rolls, the individual’s name, Dawes’ roll number, and tribal category have been transcribed. From the actual Final Rolls the individual’s name, census card number, tribal category, age, and gender have been transcribed.
Since only names listed in the Index to the Final Rolls and the Final Rolls have been transcribed, searching on a name using the search template above will only return results of individuals listed in these two records. As these two records that were transcribed are related (one is an index to the other), the majority of the time you will receive two search result hits for the same individual – showing the individual listed once in each of the two records.
To locate an approved individual’s enrollment card, use the following steps:
- 1. Begin by searching for them by name in the search template above to locate them in the Final Rolls and Index to the Final Rolls.
2. From the results, write down their tribal category, enrollment card number, and Dawes roll number (it may be necessary to view the corresponding images to verify accurate transcription).
- a. If the enrollment card number is not given, this means you have only received a search result for the individual in the Index to the Final Rolls and not in the Final Rolls. If this has happened, please go back to step 1 and try searching for them again, perhaps with another spelling (their name may have been mis-transcribed), until you can get a result with an enrollment card number.
3. Access the enrollment card images through the browse table below.
- a. The enrollment cards are organized according to tribal category.
b. Within each category the cards are arranged numerically according to census card number.
4. Use the information obtained in step 2 and select the correct tribal category from the browse table.
5. Next, select the appropriate card number range, based off of the census card number obtained in step 2.
6. Once you’re looking at the enrollment card images, use the “Next” and “Previous” buttons to navigate yourself to the correct enrollment card. (The enrollment cards are ordered numerically according to census card number and the census card number is shown in the top right-hand corner of the image as either “card no.” or “field no.”)
7. Once at the correct image, verify that you have the correct individual’s card by checking their name and Dawes’ roll number, obtained in step 2.
Iindividuals listed as doubtful or rejected can also be searched from the search template. To locate records manually, follow the below steps.
- 1. Choose a tribal category, indicated as “doubtful” or “rejected”, from the browse table below.
2. Choose an enrollment card number range.
3. Use the “next” and “previous” buttons on the image viewer to navigate yourself through the images.
4. Check the names listed on each image for the individual(s) you are looking for.