Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Joseph Don Harris

Leon Harris Leon Harris

posted on December 7, 2010

I am looking for information on my real last name. My family received the last name of Harris when they became American citizens, but I want to know what our family name was before that. My grandfather’s name was Joseph Don Harris, of Moore Oklahoma, his children were, David, Don, Phillip, Shiela, Russle, and Robert (Rocky). Any assistance in finding further genealogy, including our original last name, would be greatly appreciated.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on December 7, 2010

i don’t understand. are you looking for immigration papers? information on a possible native name? this is not clear at all. and your names are very common. there are no dates or spouse in your post either.

immigration papers are called first and second papers. people usually filed them in courts to show intention the immigrate and residency. those are mostly found in local courts. the state archives or state historical commission would probably be able to guide you to documents about your ancestors.

now, in case this is an inquiry about a native name, you would have to do your family’s genealogy. i have generally found that tracing an ancestor is easier if i start with the death and work backwards. state vital records usually have birth and death records. there might be an obituary. you can probably find this through the interlibrary loan program. see your local public library for that. there might be a cemetery record.

start with yourself, get your birth certificate,then get your parents’ birth certificates and marriage license. then you might have more information to find about your grandfather.

if you get stuck on someone who passed away after 1/1/1937, you can ask for their social security application. sometimes people filed delayed birth certificates to prove age. if you ask for a birth certificate from the state vital records, be sure and tell them there might be a delayed birth certificate.

when you get down to the 1896-1906 time period, look for your relatives in the dawes roll to see if they applied for enrollment. if they did, get a copy of the application, testimony and census card.
oklahoma historical society might have this.
NARA has a copy fort worth office.

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 for a birth certificate, and they were born before 1929, they might have

sumitted 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. the census records up to 1930 are available, although the 1890

census was largely destroyed. the 1940 census will be public information in 2012.

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.

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.

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 the name is common, you may find too many possible records.

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

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:

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

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

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.

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

Sandra Merchant Sandra Merchant

posted on October 27, 2011

Were your people from Mississippi? There were a number of Harris families around there who were Choctaw. I doubt that you’ll be able to find any prior name, but I wish you luck all the same.