Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation


Sandy Phillips Sandy Phillips

posted on August 11, 2013

Hello. I have searched the Dawes relatives for Native American ancestors, but was told that we were Cherokee. Today, at the library, I printed out a page that said James B. Sullivan, born 1896 in Choctaw Nation (crossed out and added Indian Territory. This is from the Twelfth Census of the U.S., state of Alabama, Sebastian County, Schedule No. 1 (64) A. Sheet number 8. Sister (my grandmother was Rachel) and there are the other children listed too. I couldn’t find anything on Choctaw’s at the library and can’t afford Any suggestions? I don’t know of any female relatives to get DNA testing and my DNA testing was too european to get Native American DNA to show up.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on August 11, 2013

your local public library probably has a subscription to

DNA probably won’t help you much. this was my experience with it: i took the test, there were matches that i had to contact and then we had to figure out how our family trees relate. this is easier said than done. i have only been successfully identifying a couple of common ancestors that two matches and i share. and i have records of my ancestors and their families, so my tree is very broad and deep. it is difficult, daunting. i have some brick walls and, of course, most of my matches appear to come from these, well past my documentation.

you probably think that each tribe is a separate entity, with only one strain of blood running through it. that is not the case. tribes are associated bands of natives. people changed tribes because of location, resources, affinity. there were native wars, where a group of people might be captured and then slowly integrated into the tribe.

DNA is not readily accepted as proof of association with a tribe. each tribe has membership requirements and they vary from tribe to tribe. you might get a likely native result from DNA but i doubt that it will be definitive as to tribe. i found that i was related as 1/64 to a full-blood native back around the american revolution. there are two possibilities that i know of. but then there are brick walls that stop before that time, so nothing is definitive. it doesn’t tell me which tribe. worse, DNA doesn’t tell me if it is on my father’s side or my mother’s side or a mixture. i found that the best thing i could do was try to associate people in family groups and work with it that way. if several people match me, and also match each other, they might be in the same family group.

i am not saying that DNA is a “bad” thing but this has been a journey begun, not a journey finished.

the most difficult thing is that some of my matches don’t have good genealogy skills. they might be curious but they haven’t developed a family tree or maybe cannot do so because they don’t know their biological parent. so when i contact my matches, sometimes i have to help them develop skills. some of the people just want me to do their genealogy, without effort on their part, and i am limited there. i cannot access their family vital records.

this is the website of the choctaw tribe of oklahoma. there are other choctaw tribes. you should look at where your ancestors lived 1900-1940, as this was when most of the tribes enrolled. there are state-recognized tribes and federally-recognized tribes. location is a major factor in tribal affiliation. so look at where your ancestors lived and then look for nearby tribes.

since your people were in AL, then you should look at the mississippi choctaw and MOWA tribes first. there are other tribes also.

census records are self-report and are not evidence. they can point you in a direction and that direction might turn out to be a good direction, but there are mistakes, misstatements, etc., on the census.

each tribe establishes requirements for membership and potential members must meet those requirements. in the early 1900s, tribes required that members agree to live permanently under the authority of the tribe.

you will have to get your family’s vital records. anyone who passed away after 1/1/1937 filed a social security application and had to submit proof of age. often this was a birth certificate or a delayed birth certificate. you can get a copy of this with a SS-5.

since this costs $, you should try to acquire other records first. i start with the death and work backwards in time.
death certificate- state vital records.
obituary: see your local public library interlibrary loan program.
if older, state archives or state historical society.
cemetery record: or can tell you where they were buried. then contact the cemetery to see if there is more information. sometimes the funeral home has information.

if you request a birth certificate for someone born before 1940, also ask for a delayed birth certificate at the same time.

you are looking for an ancestor with a common name. you don’t give his spouse, children, death location or date.

george sullivan, head, white male, b. jan. 1858, age 42, married 23 years, b. AL, parents b. GA, farmer, reads and writes, rents a farm
mary b., wife, white female, b. nov. 1861, age 38, married 23 years, had 8 children but only 6 survive, b. AL, parents b. GA, reads and writes
rachel n., daughter, white female, b. aug. 1882, age 17, single, b. AL, parents b. Al, reads and writes
monie m., daughter, white female, b. feb. 1889, age 11, single, b. AL, parents b. AL, at school, reads and writes
james b., son, white male, b. jan. 1896, age 4, single, b. indian territory, parents b. AL
georgia b., daughter, white female, b. jun 1898 age 1, single, b. arkansas, parents b. AL

Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Cole, Sebastian, Arkansas; Roll: 76; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0111; FHL microfilm: 1240076.

the first thing i see is that they were living in AR in 1900. they rent a farm so they had not received an allotment if they applied to a tribe. indian territory/choctaw nation is a location, not an indication of citizenship. there were many people living in indian territory by 1900, over a million. people came to indian territory because of land rushes and business opportunities. some were natives that just wanted to live with other natives. some natives did not qualify for membership in a tribe.

there are 63 tribes in oklahoma but the dawes roll contains only the names of applicants to the 5 major tribes.

did mary pass away?

Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957 about G W Sullivan
Name: G W Sullivan
Gender: Male
Age: 47
Birth Year: abt 1858
Residence: Ranger, Yell, Arkansas
Spouse’s Name: Rosa Ella Reed
Spouse’s Gender: Female
Spouse’s Age: 22
Spouse’s Residence: Ranger, Yell, Arkansas
Marriage Date: 18 May 1905
Marriage License Date: 13 May 1905
Marriage County: Yell
Event Type: Marriage
FHL Film Number: 1026495

1910 United States Federal Census about James B Sullivan
Name: James B Sullivan
[James B Sullevan]
Age in 1910: 14
Birth Year: abt 1896
Birthplace: Oklahoma
Home in 1910: Danville, Yell, Arkansas
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Son
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Name: George N Sullivan
Father’s Birthplace: Alabama
Mother’s Name: Rosa E Sullivan
Mother’s Birthplace: Alabama
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
George N Sullivan 52
Rosa E Sullivan 27
James B Sullivan 14
Georgie B Sullivan 11
Samal C Sullivan 8
Alice L Sullivan 2
Margie L Sullivan 1
[1 7/12]
Osie L Reed 8
Flossie E Reed 6
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Danville, Yell, Arkansas; Roll: T624_68; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0163; FHL microfilm: 1374081.

and they are still not living under the authority of a tribe in oklahoma.

1910 United States Federal Census about Rosa E Sullivan
Name: Rosa E Sullivan
[Rosa E Sullevan]
Age in 1910: 27
Birth Year: abt 1883
Birthplace: Arkansas
Home in 1910: Danville, Yell, Arkansas
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Marital Status: Married
Spouse’s Name: George N Sullivan
Father’s Birthplace: Alabama
Mother’s Birthplace: Alabama

and the family is renting a farm in 1910, after many of the major tribes had closed enrollment.

this is rather a shot in the dark. i don’t know if this is your family.
1920 United States Federal Census about Obey Sullivan
Name: Obey Sullivan
Age: 34
Birth Year: abt 1886
Birthplace: Oklahoma
Home in 1920: Bearden, Okfuskee, Oklahoma
Race: Indian (Native American)
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Head
Marital Status: Married
Spouse’s Name: Louisa Sullivan
Father’s Birthplace: Oklahoma
Mother’s Birthplace: Oklahoma
Home Owned: Own
Able to Read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Obey Sullivan 34
Louisa Sullivan 32
Richard Sullivan 7
Hattie G Sullivan 4
[4 6/12]
Lewis Thomas 21
James Sullivan 24
Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Bearden, Okfuskee, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1478; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 140; Image: 603.

this name is very common. you should be sure you know where your ancestor was living in every census 1900-1940. you should know who his spouse was, who his children were, where they were living.

genealogists use names, dates, locations, children and spouses to match records. if you have a common surname, you need to give more information rather than less. if you post about women, it is helpful to include the maiden name and the married name and designate which one is the maiden name.

start with what you know, gather documentation, then you can go backward in time. so get your birth certificate, your parents’ birth certificates and marriage license and then you can start on your grandparents. if someone passed away after 1/1/1937, they probably have a social security application on file. if you ask a government agency for a birth certificate, and they were born before 1929, they might have submitted a delayed birth certificate. death certificates, cemetery information and obituaries are helpful. you can usually get a copy of an obituary, newspaper mentions such as birth of a child or marriage, through the interlibrary loan program – see your local public library for this. i usually start with the death and work toward the person’s birth. military records and pension records can be helpful. census records can tell you where they were at particular times, names of family members. the census records up to 1940 are available, although the 1890 census was largely destroyed.

you will need to know who the family members were 1830-1930 or so, where they were located. a good way to do this is by census records.
the first time period to concentrate on is 1900-1930 because most tribes enrolled during this period.
federal census records can help you here. you can get access through your local public library – two databases: 1) heritage quest, 2)

the dawes roll shows the applicants to the five major tribes 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma. if your family applied for this, there would be a census card, dawes application, other supporting documents and testimony. these are located at NARA
try the fort worth, TX office.
there are 63 tribes in oklahoma but only the 5 major tribes list applicants on the dawes roll taken 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma.

requirements for enrollment for several oklahoma tribes:
What are tribal membership requirements?

Tribal enrollment criteria are set forth in tribal constitutions, articles of incorporation or ordinances. The criterion varies from tribe to tribe, so uniform membership requirements do not exist.

Two common requirements for membership are lineal decendency from someone named on the tribe’s base roll or relationship to a tribal member who descended from someone named on the base roll. (A “base roll” is the original list of members as designated in a tribal constitution or other document specifying enrollment criteria.) Other conditions such as tribal blood quantum, tribal residency, or continued contact with the tribe are common.

enrollment is a two step process. first you have to get your CDIB card from the BIA to show your degree of blood/eligibility to enroll in a particular tribe, and then you have to apply to the tribe for acceptance, if you meet their membership requirements.

Tribal Government personnel, usually an Enrollment Clerk, located at a regional or agency office processes applications for Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) and Indian Preference in Employment, BIA Form 4432, to anyone who can provide documentation that he or she descends from an American Indian tribe.
this article has many resources.
however i find the paragraph on “Recognition for individuals” to be somewhat insensitive.

i think someone should rewrite that paragraph.

What are the most typical requirements for membership?
Each tribe has a base roll which was established, usually, in the early 20th century, listing the members of the tribe
at that time. Your first challenge will be to prove direct lineal descent from someone listed on that base roll. Then
you must prove that you have the required level of blood quantum – the percentage of your genetic make-up that
is native by bloodline. Most tribes require a 1/4 blood quantum – that is, you must be at least one-fourth Native
American – but note that the Eastern Band of the Cherokees requires that you be only 1/16 or higher to join, and the Cherokee Nation has no minimum quantum restriction, so long as you can prove descent. There may be other conditions for membership as well: requirements for tribal residency or continued contact with the tribe are common.

choctaw enrollment, forms, FAQs

obituaries through the oklahoma choctaw tribe is through the history link for the tribe:

social security application for a deceased person:
form SS-5.

your public library probably has a subscription to heritage quest and is another useful database for native records and military records, but they are a subscription. however, many times, their month’s subscription price is less than the price of a dawes packet. you can google fold3 and your ancestor’s name to see if your relative’s dawes packet is available at fold3.
partial names are allowed.

bear in mind that many records are not online. always collect documents, as just the reference to a relative in an index informs you that a document is available.

death records:
death certificate: state vital records or if very old, state archives. ask for the person’s name at the time of death. you can look at death indices, such as the social security death index 1964-present for a date of death on or
obituary: see your local public library, interlibrary loan program. ask for the person’s name at the time of death. approximate date of death is helpful. if old, state historical society or state archives might have historical newspapers.
cemetery record: try or ask for the person’s name at the time of death. if you find a relative, you can click on the county or cemetery to see if others with the same surname are buried there.

marriage records:
state vital records office, county clerk or if old, state archives or state historical society.

birth records:
state vital records office, or if old, state archives or state historical society. if the birth was before 1940, ask for a birth certificate or a delayed birth certificate. many people had to get delayed birth certificates when social security came into effect because they had to show proof of age. this will be under the name used at the time of birth.

census records:
you will want to search for census records 1940 on down to the birth of your relative. the federal census was taken every 10 years, however the 1890 census was largely destroyed by fire. there are also some state census records and native census records and native rolls. and heritage quest are two databases that include many census records. many native census records kept by NARA ( are transcribed at accessgenealogy.
several helpful links for records in the choctaw territory

first of all, heritage and tribal enrollment are two different things. many times natives didn’t apply for enrollment because 1) they didn’t qualify, 2) they were philosophically opposed to enrollment, 3) they didn’t have documentation, or 4) they were mississippi choctaw and their ancestor had accepted land or benefits in lieu of tribal enrollment. some mississippi choctaw were accepted by adoption or lawsuit.

for those people who do not yet have a card, you should research the 1900-1940 census to know approximate dates of birth, birthplaces, family members. this will also tell you if someone is more likely to be on the freedman roll or as applicants to the dawes roll taken 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma for the five major tribes.

applicants on the dawes roll can be found here:
partial names are ok. look at the guide link for explanation of the codes.

when you find a possible name, then click on the card# in the card column to see the family group. if it is your family group, and they were likely enrolled, then you can search the oklahoma historical society’s dawes roll link to get the enrollment #’s for particular family members.

if your family was enrolled by council action early in the process or was enrolled by lawsuit, they might not appear on the oklahoma historical society website. you would have to check with the tribe on that.

even if your family was rejected by the dawes process, you may want the testimony, census card, application information for your genealogical purposes.

the federal census will also help you decide which state to contact for vital records.

the dawes roll was taken 1896-1906, so you should trace your ancestors down to that time period. mostly, they had to be living in oklahoma by that time and agree to live there permanently.

history of the dawes roll
wikipedia entries are sometimes opinionated; entered by volunteers.

helpful information about tribal enrollment

freedmen information:

2 ways to search:
this will let you enter partial names to get card#. click on the card# in the card column and you can see other names in that family.
other resources on the left and at the bottom of this webpage. native census records and databases are especially useful.
this will give you card# (family group) and enrollment #. they have some native marriage records too. other oklahoma records listed at left.
if your relative was enrolled by court action, their name might not be on this list.
if the name is common, you may find too many possible records.
you can order the dawes packet from the oklahoma historical society website.

if you find a relative listed on the dawes roll, fold3 may have filmed the record and could be available online.
other resources are NARA

the five civilized tribes book put out by the department of the interior has testimony.
and you can read it online

and these are the microfilms at fort worth TX archives.

there may be additional records about your relative:
contact NARA for these and other records listed on this webpage.

75.23.1 Records of the Dawes Commission
75.23.2 Records of the U.S. Indian Inspector for Indian Territory
75.23.3 General records of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes
(Record Group 75)
oklahoma newspaper and archives search. some of these resources may be available through interlibrary loan/public library.
you can try school records in the oklahoma state archives, the oklahoma historical society and NARA.
these two resources might have historical newspapers and local history books. your public library/interlibrary loan program might also have access to newspapers and local history books.

as for stories, you can see if any of the relatives are mentioned in the oklahoma pioneer papers or oklahoma chronicles.
volumes are alphabetical by surname.
if an interview is not online, contact the host of these interviews.

as for location for your family, you should look on the federal census 1900-1940 for your family and this will give you locations, family members. your local public library probably has a subscription to and heritage quest.

the tribe has an excellent information to help you. it is found under genealogy advocacy.
some obituaries:

NARA federal records repository. the fort worth, TX office has archives for oklahoma and texas tribes. atlanta/morrow office has archives for the southeast tribes. many offices have microfilmed records for several tribes. note that this web address has changed recently from

freedmen info:
You can ONLY apply for Choctaw Nation Membership, AFTER you have obtained a CDIB card proving your Choctaw Blood lineage to a direct ancestor who actually enrolled, BY BLOOD. Freedmen DID NOT enroll By Blood. When US Congress closed the Final Dawes Commission Rolls, there were no provisions granting Freedmen any benefits after the Dawes Commission closed. The tribe Constitution states BY BLOOD. however, the documents (application, census card and testimony) may help you find out more about your heritage.

about blood quantum laws:
calculations about blood quantum:

mississippi choctaw and choctaw tribe explained here:

jena choctaw tribe in louisiana:

MOWA tribe
MOWA Band Of Choctaws Wilford Taylor 1080 Red Fox Road Mount Vernon, AL 36560 (251) 829-5500. E-Mail:

other choctaw tribes:

chickasaw historical society
Historic Preservation and Repatriation Office
Phone: (580) 272-5325
Fax: (580) 272-5327
2020 E. Arlington, Suite 4, Ada, OK 74820
send mail to: P.O. Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821

chickasaw tribe
Chickasaw Nation Headquarters
520 East Arlington, Ada, OK 74820
Phone (580) 436-2603
Mailing address: P.O. Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821

chickasaw genealogy archive center Tribal Library
Phone: (580) 310-6477
Fax: (580) 559-0773
1003 Chamber Loop, Ada, OK 74820
send mail to: P.O. Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821
oklahoma historical society
marriage records

other historical societies:
some oklahoma genealogical societies:

texas tribes

oklahoma tribes:

some links for the choctaw.
i looked at the land records and those need a lot of work. i have no information about whether or when they will improve some of these categories.

types of records available for native americans:
pages 366-369 in particular although the entire native american chapter is helpful.
The Genealogist’s Companion and Sourcebook:
Guide to the Resources You Need for Unpuzzling Your Past
Emily Anne Croom
you can ask for these particular pages from your local public library. if they don’t have the book, you can get the pages through the interlibrary loan program.
native american records are discussed in pages 352-386.

Tracing ancestors among the Five Civilized Tribes: Southeastern Indians …
By Rachal Mills Lennon
this book could be accessed through the interlibary loan program also.

always find the state archives. some records are online, some records are not. but many times you can find a record not found in other places. you want to see also about newspaper mentions for obituaries, births, marriages in particular.

check courts for probate, civil and criminal cases, marriage records.

if your ancestors lived on a reservation, they might not appear on a federal census because they were not taxed.
1860 census, indian territory.

this book is a good read about the dawes roll and how they implemented it.
The Dawes Commission and the allotment of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1893-1914
By Kent Carter
and you can read this book online. your relatives’ testimony might be in the book.
see the menu at left. you can download it.
you should look at the enrollment application, census card and testimony. this post will tell you how to do that. these documents will tell you more about your heritage, but it won’t help you if your goal is to be enrolled in the choctaw tribe of oklahoma. some people were classed as mississippi choctaw if the family had a native heritage but didn’t qualify for enrollment in the tribe.

there are 63 tribes in oklahoma but only the five major tribes are on the dawes roll. look at your family’s location around 1900-1930 time period (census will help you there) and see if there was a tribe located nearby. it is possible that your relatives were affiliated with another tribe.

if they were mississippi choctaw, there is probably a land grant in MS/AL to a head of household called choctaw scrip land. this was given in lieu of tribal enrollment 1830-1880 time period. has a database of the MS and AL choctaw scrip land records, called mississippi or alabama land records. there are other land records in those databases too,, so you have to look at the authority/source cited. NARA has those land record packages.

the mississippi choctaw was not removed from oklahoma. but they were largely rejected for tribal enrollment.

this website might help you in your search. some people are trying to transcribe applications.
i do not know what they are trying to transcribe, but this is the volunteer page

and this might be of interest to you:
Rights of Mississippi Choctaws in the Choctaw Nation
Index to the Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory
the dawes roll is composed of applications to the five major tribes in oklahoma.

good advice about native research:

if your relatives came from a different geographic location or belonged to a different tribe, try searching google for the state and tribes. you might find a contact for a state-recognized tribe or a federal recognized tribe.

this page can help you set up a targeted google search.

penny postcards. this is a website that features pictures that were on postcards. click on the state to see the postcards that they have.
if you have a penny postcard, you can click on submissions to add your penny postcard to the collection.

these searches will combine several possible search terms and give you the best matches.

i have collected many resources over the years. if you want to write to me, and request the choctaw resource list, i will be glad to send it to you.

i am just a volunteer that wants to empower people to learn how to do genealogy.

suzanne hamlet shatto