Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation


posted on March 24, 2014

Greatgrandmother on mothers side was 9yrs old when she was lost during the trial of tears, the thornton family found her and took her in and she later married and had my grandmother. Is there a way to search her family if I do notknow her choctaw name? My grandfather on my mothers side was also a full blooded choctaw, different women, don, t know anything about her…any info would be appreciated, family came from northern ala and tenn

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on March 24, 2014 and updated on March 24, 2014

the trail of tears occurred in the late 1830s from MS/AL to indian territory/OK for the choctaw tribe.

first look for genealogy information. i don’t know the answer to your question because there are no dates in your post.

you should gather your documents. i start with the death and go backward in time.
death certificate from state vital records.
obituary through your local public library/interlibrary loan program.
cemetery record: try or and contact the cemetery to see if there is more information. often other family members might be buried in the cemetery.

you will want to get down to the 1900-1940 time period because this was when most tribes enrolled original members. use the census to find location, family members, approximate dates.

location is a major factor in tribal enrollment because natives had to agree to live under the authority of the tribe.

childrens’ records point to the parents and fix a family to a date and location.

if a relative was born before 1940, when you request a birth certificate also request a delayed birth certificate.

if you get stuck, and the deceased relative was alive after 1/1/1937, then you can request a copy of their social security application with a SS-5 form.

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


you will need to know who the family members were 1830-1940 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)

there is a difference between tribal heritage and tribal enrollment.

find your relative in the 1900-1940 census. this will give you locations, family

members, dates that you will need for looking on the dawes roll, taken 1896-1906

in the state of oklahoma/indian territory. the dawes roll lists applicants to the five

major tribes of oklahoma. use the accessgenealogy website to do this

or ancestrypaths:
get family group/card#, members of the family:
partial surnames ok. just enter the surname.
partial names might not be found on this website.

find a possible name, click on the # in the card# column and this will show you the

family group as of application. use the 1900 and 1910 census to match the names. write

down the names, card#.

if you don’t find your family, then look at the 1900-1940 census locations for your

family, look for nearby tribes. contact the nearby tribes to see if your family had

enrolled. find out membership criteria for that tribe. there are tribes in other

locations and other choctaw tribes. location is an important factor over whether a native

enrolled in a tribe. you won’t find that an original enrollee enrolled in the choctaw

tribe in oklahoma if they were living in another state, for instance. if your family

was renting in 1910, for instance, they had not received a land grant from one of the

five major tribes in oklahoma and were probably not enrolled. there are 63 tribes

in oklahoma but only the 5 major tribes are on the dawes roll.

many natives did not want to live under tribal authority or didn’t qualify for

enrollment or could not submit satisfactory evidence to a tribe. this is very common. it

means that your family is not enrolled in a tribe.

there were a few natives that were enrolled by tribal council approval or lawsuit. i

don’t have any way to tell you whether someone was enrolled because of this. you

would have to contact the tribe for this information. however, some people have

posted this answer and you might be able to use google on your family names and see


supposing you find your family in the dawes roll, then look at the oklahoma historical

society dawes website and put in the name of someone in that family group that you found

on accessgenealogy. this will give you the enrollment # if the enrollment was successful. write down the enrollment #s for your family.

if you found your family on the dawes roll, you might want a copy of the dawes packet.

four sources for this:

1) once you have the card#, search here for documents. the website is free at this time:
arranged by card#. use the slider bar at the bottom to approximate your card#. the packets are arranged in order of card#. usually the beginning document references the card#.

there may be more than one card# for a particular person, depending on whether they

were a parent at the time of enrollment.

sometimes a family’s consideration also depends on an earlier decision in their

family. so you may have more than one card# to look up.

2) is an online subscription resource and one month’s subscription is

less than the price of a dawes packet at NARA or oklahoma historical society.

3) NARA fort worth, TX office
4) oklahoma historical society

a dawes packet contains census card, enrollment application, supporting documents

and maybe testimony. even if your family was not enrolled, the genealogical information

might be of interest to you.

the enrolled members are referred to as original enrollees. if your family had

enrolled by blood then you are eligible to enroll in the choctaw tribe of oklahoma. all

tribes have membership criteria. if your family had been enrolled as freedman, then

they were enrolled as former slaves and their descendants were not eligible to

enroll in the tribe.

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.

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 and Choctaw tribe have 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


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

there is an 1860 and 1885 census in the indian territory

accessgenealogy’s collection of information: if you are from another tribe, use the links

at the right.
if you are from an associated tribe, see the several possible links on the webpage.

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


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.

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

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


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



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)
this has a search but you may have to read the whole edition of a newspaper to find

your search match.
the search term will be highlighted. the newspapers (location and years) are

limited, so you might want to search for the location and look at years available.
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.

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

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:

tribes in other locations:

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

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 were 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

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

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 may want to make a heritage book.

good family tree software:
i use legacy. the free basic edition is great for the beginning and helps you


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

suzanne hamlet shatto