Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation


Dana Henderson Dana Henderson

posted on August 13, 2011

I have been trying to research my family’s genealogy, but I am having horrible luck. I recently found out that my family is part Choctaw as well as Cherokee. However, this part of my family tree is through my paternal grandmother’s side, which is very hard to track. Furthermore, I learned that my great great grandmother took her name off the rolls and lied about her race on her daughter’s birth certificate. I’ve scoured the Dawes Rolls several times and there is no trace of my family whatsoever. I’ve even been on, footnote, and the National Archives, but still no leads…or leads that I can prove. I’ve even made a trek to the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulfur (they have a Heritage Center there where you can search your lineage to any of the 5 civilized tribes) and had someone help me research, but no luck. All I know is that I have an ancestor named Jack Kendrick who was Choctaw from Alabama and he was in the Trail Of Tears and rode on a train. He married Beulah Knight, who I think is Cherokee and was from Mississippi. Does anyone else know of a place I can search online to find out more about my family? All the info is from my great grandmother, so there are a lot of gaps of information. Please let me know if anyone can help. Thanks!

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on August 14, 2011

genealogists use names, dates, locations, children and spouse to match records.

there are native census records and databases. accessgenealogy has links that might help you there. use the dawes roll webpage for accessgenealogy.

if you don’t know much about the children, then you will not have much to start with to find the parents. childrens’ records point to the parents, fix the family to a date and location.

the trail of tears occurred in the late 1830’s from the southeastern reservations to oklahoma. however, there were unofficial migrations later. the railroad was generally built 1840-1860, after the trail of tears.

i start with the death and work backwards. obituary-maybe you can get from the local public library, state historical society or state archives. cemetery record – might be online at or death certificate – state vital records or county vital records or state archives.

try to find the census records. if the family was living on reservation in the 1800’s, there are some native census records and databases. if the family was living off-reservation during a census, they would be on the census. maybe your family is MOWA or mississippi choctaw. in that case, you should look for a mississippi or alabama land record that says choctaw scrip. these were given to the head of household 1830-1880 or so.

if your relative was alive 1/1/1937, they would have applied for social security. the application would have the names of parents, locations and dates. they would have submitted a birth certificate or delayed birth certificate to show proof of age. if you ask for their birth certificate, also ask for a delayed birth certificate. birth certificates are often filed by date, so if you don’t ask for the delayed birth certificate, they might not locate it.

it might be helpful to visit a local genealogy society so that you get comfortable with the types of resources that you can use, the language that genealogists use. we tend to do things in particular ways. genealogy is a journey, not an endpoint and you get to pass the product along to the next generation.

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 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. the census records up to 1930 are available, although the 1890 census was largely destroyed. the 1940 census will be public information in 2012.

social security application for a deceased person:

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.

helpful information about tribal enrollment

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.

NARA federal records repository. the fort worth, TX office has archives for oklahoma and texas tribes. atlanta/morrow office has archives for the southwest 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.

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 22
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 23
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

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

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

Dana Henderson Dana Henderson

posted on August 20, 2011

Thank you Suzanne for all the information you have given me. This helps me out immensely. I’m only 19 and I’ve been doing the research on my own so it was hard to find out where to start, but thanks to your response I know where to start my research. Thanks again.


Dana Henderson