Free Access to Native American Records – Limited Time

free access

Many people have an oral history of Native American heritage. is offering free access to their Native American Collection until November 15th, 2015.

Finding that your DNA carries a history of Native heritage often is just the beginning of a search.  The next question, if of course, which tribe.  That information generally comes from genealogy research.

Conversely, the lack of autosomal DNA evidence does not mean your ancestor was not Native – it may mean they were just too many generations back in time for their DNA to become evident in today’s ethnicity results – although they may still show in Y and mitochondrial DNA – depending on where they fall in your family tree.

Regardless of how your Native history or heritage is presented in your family – DNA or not – enjoy searching these free records.

Titles in this collection include:

  • Ratified Indian Treaties (1722-1869): Ratified treaties that occurred between the United States government and American Indian tribes. Also included are presidential proclamations, correspondence, and treaty negotiation expenses.
  • Indian Census Rolls (1885-1940): Census rolls submitted annually by agents or superintendents of Indian reservations as required by an 1884 Act of Congress. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under Federal supervision are listed on these census rolls.
  • Dawes Packets: Applications between 1896 and 1914 from members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes to establish eligibility for an allotment of land in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal law.
  • Dawes Enrollment Cards (1898-1914): Enrollment cards, also referred to as “census cards,” prepared by the staff of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, commonly known as the Dawes Commission. The cards record information provided by applications submitted by members of the same family group or household and include notations of the actions taken.
  • Eastern Cherokee Applications (1906-1909): Applications submitted for shares of the money that was appropriated for the Eastern Cherokee Indians by Congress on June 30, 1906.
  • Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller (1908-1910): The Guion Miller Roll is perhaps the most important source for Cherokee genealogical research. There are an estimated 90,000 individual applicants from throughout North America included within this publication.
  • Cherokee Indian Agency, TN (1801-1835): The records of the agent of Indian Affairs in Tennessee, including correspondence, agency letter books, fiscal records, records of the Agent for the Department of War in Tennessee, records of the Agent for Cherokee Removal, and miscellaneous records.
  • Rinehart Photos – Native Americans (1898): Photographs of over 100 Native Americans taken by Frank A. Rinehart, a commercial photographer in Omaha, Nebraska. Rinehart was commissioned to photograph the 1898 Indian Congress, part of the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition.
Posted in Research, Resources | Leave a comment

Mass Pre-Contact Native Grave in California Yields Disappointing Results

In 2012 during excavation for a shopping mall near San Francisco, a mass grave containing 7 men was unearthed.  The manner in which they were buried led archaeologists to believe that they had been murdered, and quickly buried, not ceremonially buried as tribal members would be.  They were found among more than 200 other burials.

The victims ages ranged from about 18 to about 40 and scientists concentrated on analyzing the wounds, cause of death and DNA of these men.  In part, they wanted to see if they were related to each other and if they originated in this area or came from elsewhere.  In other words, were they unsuccessful invaders as suggested by the circumstances of their burials?

This article tells more about the excavations and includes some photos.

Analysis suggests the men lived about 1200 years ago, clearly before European contact.  Analysis of the men’s teeth provided information about their history.  These men had spent their lives together, but their isotope signatures were clearly different than the individuals in the balance of the burials.  Indeed, they look to have been invaders.

An academic paper titled “Isotopic and genetic analysis of a mass grave in central California: Implications for precontact hunter-gatherer warfare” was published a few weeks ago in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.  The article itself is behind a paywall available here.  The abstract is provided below:



Analysis of a mass burial of seven males at CA-ALA-554, a prehistoric site in the Amador Valley, CA, was undertaken to determine if the individuals were “locals” or “non-locals,” and how they were genetically related to one another.


The study includes osteological, genetic (mtDNA), and stable (C, N, O, S) and radiogenic (Sr) isotope analyses of bone and tooth (first and third molars) samples.


Isotopes in first molars, third molars, and bone show they spent the majority of their lives living together. They are not locals to the Amador Valley, but were recently living to the east in the San Joaquin Valley, suggesting intergroup warfare as the cause of death. The men were not maternally related, but represent at least four different matrilines. The men also changed residence as a group between age 16 and adult years.


Isotope data suggest intergroup warfare accounts for the mass burial. Genetic data suggest the raiding party included sets of unrelated men, perhaps from different households. Generalizing from this case and others like it, we hypothesize that competition over territory was a major factor behind ancient warfare in Central California. We present a testable model of demographic expansion, wherein villages in high-population-density areas frequently fissioned, with groups of individuals moving to lower-population-density areas to establish new villages. This model is consistent with previous models of linguistic expansion. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Genetic Information

I was extremely disappointed with the genetic information.  Working with the local Ohlone community, the scientists did attempt to extract DNA from the 7 individuals in the mass grave, with 6 extractions being successful.

They only analyzed the HVR1 region of the mitochondrial DNA.

Eerkens 2015 table

In the paper, the authors indicate that nuclear DNA which would include the Y chromosome as well as autosomal DNA was too degraded to recover.  While disappointing, there is nothing they can do about that.

However, only analyzing the mitochondrial DNA, which they clearly were able to amplify, at the HVR1 level is an incredible lost opportunity.  They obtained enough resolution in 6 of the individuals to obtain general haplogroup assignments.  However, the HVR2 and coding regions would have provided the defining information about extended haplogroups and individual mutations, including, perhaps, haplogroups never seen previously in the Americas.

Furthermore, given the information above, we can’t tell if the D1 individuals are related to each other matrilineally or not.  The B2 individuals are clearly not related in a recent timeframe nor are the A2, B2 and D1 people related to each other on their matrilineal line.  What a shame more information wasn’t obtained.

While I’m grateful that DNA testing was undertaken, I’m saddened by the partial results, especially in this day of full genomic sequencing for ancient DNA specimens.  I’m perplexed as to why they would not have obtained as much information as was possible, given the significant effort expended in recovering any ancient DNA specimen.

Posted in DNA, Ohlone | 1 Comment

Interactive Early Maps Show Native Movements

Early maps are a great source for Native researchers.  They often show the locations of Indian peoples or towns, in addition to place names that reflect Native people as well.

At this link, you will find several interactive maps.

As an example, let’s take a quick look at the 1755 Mitchell map.  It’s extremely detailed and this site allows you to zoom in on different areas.

Mitchell 1755

If you look closely, you’ll see that it says “Shawanoes” and then right above that, “Subdued by the Six Nations and mostly removed to the Ohio.”  To the right of those words, you’ll see the word “Tuscarora.”  To the upper left, Cayugas.

Looking just south of that on the map, on the migration path from North Carolina to Pennsylvania and New York, we see the Tuscarora noted again just below the Juniata River, and just above Winchester, in Frederick County, Virginia, the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley.

Mitchell 1755 2

Much of the history of the migration of various people can often be found in places named after them, even after they left that area.

Even looking on contemporary maps, and comparing them with earlier maps can be enlightening.  For example, on the present day Google map below, we see Tuscarora Road in Frederick County, above Winchester.  Local history tells us that the Tuscarora lived in this area.

Frederick Co Va Tuscarora Road

Take a look and enjoy.

Posted in Cayuga, Shawnee, Tuscarora | 1 Comment

Indian History of Present Day Berkeley County, West Virginia

Berkeley County WVA

According to missionary reports, several thousand Hurons occupied present-day West Virginia, including the Eastern Panhandle region where Berkeley County is located, during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. During the 17th century, the Iroquois Confederacy (then consisting of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, and Seneca tribes) drove the Hurons from the state. The Iroquois Confederacy was headquartered in New York and was not interested in occupying present-day West Virginia. Instead, they used it as a hunting ground during the spring and summer months.

During the early 18th century, West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle region was inhabited by the Tuscarora. They eventually migrated northward into New York and, in 1712, became the sixth nation to be formally admitted into the Iroquois Confederacy. The Eastern Panhandle region was also used as a hunting ground by several other Indian tribes, including the Shawnee (then known as the Shawanese) who resided near present-day Winchester, Virginia and Moorefield, West Virginia until 1754 when they migrated into Ohio. The Mingo, who resided in the Tygart Valley and along the Ohio River in present-day West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle region, and the Delaware, who lived in present-day eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, but had several autonomous settlements as far south as present-day Braxton County, also used the area as a hunting ground.

Following the French and Indian War, the Mingo retreated to their homes along the banks of the Ohio River and were rarely seen in the Eastern Panhandle region. Although the French and Indian War was officially over, many Indians continued to view the British as a threat to their sovereignty and continued to fight them. In the summer of 1763, Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, led raids on key British forts in the Great Lakes region. Shawnee chief Keigh-tugh-qua, also known as Cornstalk, led similar attacks on western Virginia settlements, starting with attacks in present-day Greenbrier County and extending northward to Berkeley Springs, and into the northern Shenandoah Valley. By the end of July, Indians had destroyed or captured all British forts west of the Alleghenies except Fort Detroit, Fort Pitt, and Fort Niagara. The uprisings were ended on August 6, 1763 when British forces, under the command of Colonel Henry Bouquet, defeated Delaware and Shawnee forces at Bushy Run in western Pennsylvania.

During the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the Mingo and Shawnee, headquartered at Chillicothe, allied themselves with the British. In 1777, a party of 350 Wyandots, Shawnees and Mingos, armed by the British, attacked Fort Henry, near present-day Wheeling. Nearly half of the soldiers manning the fort were killed in the three-day assault. The Indians then left the area celebrating their victory. For the remainder of the war, smaller raiding parties of Mingo, Shawnee, and other Indian tribes terrorized settlers throughout northern and eastern West Virginia. As a result, European settlement throughout present-day West Virginia, including the Eastern Panhandle, came to a virtual standstill until the war’s conclusion.

Following the war, the Mingo and Shawnee, once again allied with the losing side, returned to their homes. As the number of settlers in present-day West Virginia began to grow, both the Mingo and Shawnee moved further inland, leaving their traditional hunting ground to the white settlers.

In 1670, John Lederer, a German physician and explorer employed by Sir William Berkeley, colonial governor of Virginia, became the first European to set foot in present-day Berkeley County.  John Howard and his son also passed through present-day Berkeley County a few years later, and “discovered” the valley of the South Branch Potomac River at Green Spring.

From Wikipedia about Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Posted in Cayuga, Delaware, Huron, Iroquois, Mingoes, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Ottawa, Seneca, Shawnee, Tuscarora, Wyandot | 2 Comments

Indians Along the Susquehanna in the 1670s

Susquehanna Seller Map

Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers about 1680

Excerpts from the book, “A History Between the Rivers; The Susquehanna, the Juniata and the Potomac 1609-1958 by C. Arnold McClure.

Page 47 – 1675/76 “…the destruction of the Susquehannocks, a once-powerful group of Indians who had stablished themselves on the lower Susquehanna River and who seem to have served as middlemen in the exchange of beaver skins and European trade goods through  the region between the upper Ohio and the Delaware Chesapeake coastal area…destruction caused  by epidemic and hostile attacks by Iroquois and whites…” (1)

Page 48 – June 18, 1676 – “They (the Iroquois) are bringing 50 captives (other Indians) from a distance of 200 leagues from here (Onondaga, NY), to whom they have granted their lives because they destine them to work in their fields.”  (2)

Page 48 – 1677 – Southern Delaware Indians move into Susquehanna River area and take over trade activities.  “Delawares were generally identified as a ‘woman nation’.”  Northern Delaware known to be more aggressive.  (3)

Page 48 – circa 1677 – Old Susquehanna town near present Conestoga new Indian community formed composed originally of Senecas and Susquehannock captives, then attracting bands of roving Shawnees, Conoys from Maryland and Delawares from further East.  (4)

  1. William A. Hunter, “Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier,” 1999 page 5
  2. Letter from Jesuit Priest, Jean de Lamberville, per Charles A. Hanna in “The Wilderness Trail,” 1910
  3. William A. Hunter, “Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier,” 1999 page 4
  4. William A. Hunter, “Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier,” 1999 page 10
Posted in Conoy, Delaware, Iroquois, Seneca, Shawnee, Slaves, Susquehanna | Leave a comment

Library of Virginia Native American Resources

The Library of Virginia maintains many collections, and found within them are several Native American resources dating from colonial days.  This document describes those resources and tells you how and where to locate and access them.

Posted in Virginia | 1 Comment

Native American Haplogroup C Update – Progress!!!

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Haplogroup C-P39 is the Native American branch of Y DNA paternal haplogroup C.  It’s rare as chicken’s teeth.  Most Native American males fall into haplogroup Q, making our haplogroup C-P39 project participants quite unusual and unique.  So are the tools needed to identify branches on the Native American haplogroup C tree.

Last week, Family Tree DNA added a group of 9 SNPs found in haplogroup C to their product offering.  This was done without an announcement and without any fanfare – but it’s really important.  Without the ongoing support of Family Tree DNA, we wouldn’t have the Big Y test, nor the refining SNP tests that can be added to the Big Y in areas where the results are ambiguous.  Individuals who don’t want to purchase the Big Y can purchase these haplogroup defining SNPs individually as well.

  • Z30503
  • Z30601
  • FGC21495
  • Z30750
  • Z30764
  • PF3239
  • Z30729
  • FGC263
  • FGC31712

However, because haplogroup C-P39 is so rare – and to date – we have found several new SNPs in every man who has taken the Big Y test – and because those new, never before discovered SNPs are the bread crumbs that we need to follow to discover how our ancestors settled and dispersed across the Americas – we strong recommend the Big Y test at Family Tree DNA for all C-P39 men.  The Big Y test doesn’t just look at known SNP locations, it scans the entire Y chromosome for mutations.  Therefore, it’s both a genealogy and a research tool.

To that end, we very much want to fund this testing from the project coffers where necessary to advance our understanding.  Just to whet your appetite, we have participants now across Canada and also in the American Southwest.  We desperately want these men to take the Big Y test so we can get a much clearer picture of how they are related, and how many mutations they have individually – but don’t share – because that is how we estimate when they last shared a common ancestor.  In other words, the mutations build the branches of the tree.

This week, we’ve ordered another new C-P39 Big Y test.  If you are C-P39 – Native American haplogroup C – and have not yet taken the Big Y – please consider doing so.

If you are Native American and haplogroup C – please join the C-P39 and the American Indian projects.  You can do so from your home page at Family Tree DNA by clicking on the “Projects” tab at the upper left of your personal page, then on “join projects.”  You can search for the word “Indian” in the project list to find the American Indian project and scrolling down to the Y haplogroup projects and clicking on C will take you to the C-P39 link.

project join

If you can contribute to funding these Big Y tests, please do – even small amounts help.  The link to donate directly to the C-P39 project is:

Each individual who takes the Big Y test is also encouraged to upgrade to 111 markers.  We need as much information as we can get.

Marie Rundquist and I are co-administrators of the C-P39 project, and she wrote the following verbiage in honor of the 5 year anniversary of the first discovery of what is now C-P39 in the Native Community.  We, as a community, have come a very long way in just 5 years!

It was in 2010, five years ago, when Keith Doucet first tested for the C P39 Y DNA (formerly C3b) Native American DNA type in the Amerindian Ancestry out of Acadia Family Tree DNA study — with numbers of Doucets (and Doucettes!) having the same, Native American, C P39 Y DNA result.  It’s amazing when you think of our journey and how much this research has benefitted our knowledge of our history in North America!

Who can ever forget Keith Doucet’s discovery?

Or Emile Broome’s Y DNA discovery, also from 2010?

…and the subsequent discoveries of related Doucets and Doucettes and other project members from all regions of the US and Canada who tested in our project and whose results showed the same Native American C P39 Y DNA haplogroup type?

There is great similarity among the DNA test results for our C P39 Y DNA candidates despite differences in geographic locations and surnames, with testers from across the United States, including the American Southwest, the North East, the South, and Canada compared.  Initial Big Y DNA test results for project members have shown remarkable similarity as well.  Additional Big Y test results for tests underway and the availability of 9 new SNPs for our project members help us discover whether this trend is amplified by the additional tests or if we (the C P39 Y DNA project) can distinguish downstream uniqueness among our participants. The C P39 Y DNA test has received the generous support of its members, Family Tree DNA leadership and scientists, product managers, and volunteer administrators in establishing our superior C P39 Y DNA baseline and we are grateful for your support.

Visit the C P39 Y DNA project site to learn more.

Thank you to our project members for your continued participation!  And thank you to Family Tree DNA for their ongoing dedication, research and support.  Collectively, we discover more of our history every day!

If you haven’t tested, and would like to, please test through Family Tree DNA so that you can join the Native American focused projects there.  Here’s an article that will help you decide which test or tests are best for you to take.  Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA

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Posted in DNA | 2 Comments