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Legal recognition as a tribal member varies depending on which Native American tribe you wish to enroll. The United States territories are sovereign states, therefore, have their own requirements and procedures to become a registered member or citizen.
How Do You Know If You Are Native American
Many people have family history that shows they have Native American ancestry. The first step in confirming or denying this claim is to take an autosomal DNA test, which can tell you for sure if you have Native American ancestry. These tests are available from companies such as 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.com.
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It is important to note that genetic testing cannot legally establish your Aboriginal ancestry, as many Aboriginal communities do not accept DNA testing for tribal registration. Testing can help determine whether a connection is possible to determine whether formal recognition is necessary. If your DNA results show that you have no Native American ancestors, you can save yourself the time and energy of trying to find a missing American ancestor.
DNA is a critical issue in tribal registration. Some countries are willing to accept the results as additional proof of membership.
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In some cases, DNA has been used by some indigenous nations as a means of exonerating people, such as guilt.
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Where some Cherokees fought to drive out the descendants of the black Cherokee Freedmen. (A federal judge ruled in favor of the Freedmen’s Cherokee Nation citizenship in August 2017.) The Cherokee Freedmen were formerly Cherokee slaves, who later received Cherokee citizenship after the Civil War. The Cherokee were one of the so-called Civilized Tribes, each of which kept black slaves. The others were Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole. Each of these countries and their slaves were victims of the famous Trail of Tears in the 1830s.
Some people now argue that since DNA testing reveals few Native American ancestors in the descendants of the Cherokee Freedmen, they should not be listed as members of the tribe. Why do they argue? The same reasons people want to become members of a tribe, such as access to health care or education, are often motivations for tribes to have strong membership requirements. This is why DNA is a controversial issue and countries may or may not accept it as evidence of parentage. For more information about DNA testing and tribal registration, visit the Native American & Alaska Resource Center.
If your DNA results confirm that you have Native American ancestry, you can start searching for records of that union. A good place to do this is the “Guide to Tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry” by the U.S. Department of the Interior. (pdf). This brief explains how to write about Native American ancestry and shows where to look for the records you need. In almost all cases, you will need to provide a well-documented list of your direct connection to a recognized and legitimate ancestor of your tribe.
The next step would be to choose a particular ethnic group, as each has its own application process and requirements. You must contact the tribe directly to let them know what you need to verify your connection to register as a tribe member. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has a directory of tribal leaders (pdf) and their contact information, which can provide you with the first place to contact a tribe regarding enrollment.
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Requirements vary by state, but in most cases you will need to provide documentation of your ancestry to a person who appears in the 1900 and 1910 Indian censuses or in the Indian Rolls, such as the Dawes Rolls or the Guion Miller Roll. The Dawes Rolls are maintained by the National Archives, and FamilySearch has a great resource that explains how the records are organized and how to find them. FamilySearch also has a helpful guide to the Guion Miller Roll.
Historical blood counts helped the BIA determine who was considered an “Indian.” Blood count refers to the number of “blood” donations a person receives from both parents (part of each parent). If the blood count is used by the BIA, it is recorded on the Degree Certificate of Indian or Alaska Native Blood (pdf), or the CDIB card. The “Indian blood” count requires you to prove your ancestral connection on the Indian census or tribal records. Your blood pressure is calculated based on your parents.
The CDIB does not choose tribal membership, as the race is determined by the race itself, although some tribal states may require the CDIB as part of the registration process. The card is only issued to members of the tribes recognized by the government, and some people, such as the Cherokee Freedmen, are not eligible to receive the card because the blood level of their Indian ancestors is often not recorded on the Dawes Rolls.
Some tribes, such as the Navajo tribe, use blood counts for tribal registration. All members of the Navajo Nation must be one-fourth Navajo to register as tribes. Similarly, St. The Regis Mohawk Tribe in New York and the White Earth Nation (pdf) in Minnesota also require members to have a quarter of their tribal blood. Some nations, such as the Cherokee tribe, require a written list that links the applicant to a direct ancestor recorded in the Dawes Rolls. Others, such as the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, require that one of the applicant’s parents be a registered member.
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Regardless of which country you want to apply for, it would be best to contact the country in advance. It will be able to guide you through the process and let you know what it needs.
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This answer was submitted in collaboration with Meaghan E.H. Siekman, Ph.D., researcher from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the leading source of nonprofit family history. his website,
, has over 1 billion search results in New England, New York and beyond. With leading experts in the field, NEHGS staff can provide support and guidance on questions in many research areas. They may also be hired to do family research. Would you like to search for the truth behind the ancient story of your Native American family? Or maybe you already know that this story is true, but you don’t know where to go.
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Fortunately, there are many online guides, collections and other special resources to help you on your journey. Here is the starting point.
Consider adding your family to a simple website and get hundreds of family histories instantly available.
MyHeritage offers 2 weeks of free access to its vast 18 billion historical records, with its technology instantly connecting you with new information about your ancestors. Log in using the link below to find out what you can disclose about your family.
If you are just beginning your family history research, the first and most important step you must take is to determine which parts of your family legend may be correct.
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Identifying Native American ancestors should be done genealogically, looking at each line of your family for visible connections.
Although there are several genetic tests that can tell you if you have measurable Native American DNA, these tests cannot tell you the tribe (tribe), group or region from which this DNA comes and, in addition, these tests can miss Native American ancestors. it comes from several generations ago (depending on how much of your parents and how much of their DNA you inherited). This test can be used as a helpful tool, but should not be used as the only tool to determine whether or not you are a parent.
The easiest way to start your genealogical journey is to write down as much information as you can about your American family history, and then direct that information to the known people on each line of your established family.
If you don’t know which family to look for, or you have a young family
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