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To learn how to get started with American Indian research, find research facilities, and American Indian websites click here.

Start your search for records of an American Indian ancestor in other records since Indians are often found in the same records as all other Americans. After you finish those records, turn to records specifically about Indians. Opportunities for genealogical research for American Indians are good because more government records have been created for Indians than for any other ethnic group. Many Indian records must still be obtained from their original archive or library.

It is important to study the history of the tribe, such as migration patterns, marriage and naming customs, and affiliations with government agencies or churches. Because some tribes moved several times, records about them may be in many locations. If you have evidence of Indian ancestry, there are some unique records you can use. Note, however, that many traditions of Indian ancestry are unfounded. Before you can effectively search American Indian records, you should:

  • Identify a specific ancestor who was Indian and learn where the ancestor lived.
  • Identify his or her tribe.
  • Study the history of the tribe.

Among the major tribes that lived in what is now Indiana were the Delaware, Kickapoo, Miami, Mound Builders, Piankashaw, Potawatomi, Shawnee, and Wea. After 1794, treaties were made that opened up large areas of land for settlement. At the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, the Indians were defeated, and white settlements then proceeded at an increased rate. By the 1840s, most of the Indians had moved westward to other lands, either voluntarily or by force.

Contents

American Indian Sources

Census indexes are available that list the American Indians in the 1900 and 1910 censuses. See the "Minorities" section above for these sources.

Other sources are:

  • Beckwith, Hiram Williams. The Illinois and Indiana Indians. New York, New York: Arno Press, 1975. (Family History Library book 970.1 B389i; fiche 6087719.) This book gives histories of the various tribes in Indiana.
  • Rafert, Stewart. American-Indian Genealogical Research in the Midwest: Resources and Perspectives. National Genealogical Society Quarterly 76 (September 1988): 212-24. (Family History Library book 973 B2ng.) This article mentions useful local, county, and federal records to search for information on Americans Indians.

Online Resources

Indian Language and Culture as it relates to Indiana 

Records related to Indiana Indians at Access Genealogy

Indian-related information at the Indiana Government website

Tribes and Bands of Indiana

The following list of American Indians who have lived in Indiana has been compiled from Hodge's Handbook of American Indians...[1] and from Swanton's The Indian Tribes of North America[2]. Some may simply be variant spellings for the same tribe.

Bands

Wee-sau, Ash-Kum, Mau-ke-Kose, Wee-si-o-nas, Com-o-za of Patiwatan, Motas, Mes-Quaw-uck, Che-case, Aub-ba-mau-bee, Upper Kispoko Band of Shawnee

Potawatomie Bands:

Okaw-mause, Kee-waw-nee, Nee-Boast, Ma Che Saw (Mat chis jaw), Naswaw kee (Nees wawgh gee), Quash-quaw, pee pin ah was, Mach kah tah mo may, No tawkah, To I sas, Che quaw ka ko or Che chaw kosa, Ma sac, Memorn i nee, Me mot way or Me shing go me sia, Me to sin ia, Wee san

Map of Creek Land

Map of Creek Indian Township Lawrence County Indiana.png

This is a Map of Creek Indian Township Lawrence County Indiana.

Agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

Agencies and subagencies were created as administrative offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its predecessors. Their purpose was (and is) to manage Indian affairs with the tribes, to enforce policies, and to assist in maintaining the peace. The names and location of these agencies may have changed, but their purpose remained basically the same. Many of the records of genealogical value were created by these offices.

The following list of agencies that have operated or now exist in Indiana has been compiled from Hill's Office of Indian Affairs...[3], Hill's Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians[4], and others.

Family History Library

In the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog many American Indian records are listed under:

INDIANA - NATIVE RACES

See also the FamilySearch Catalog’s Subject Search under the name of the tribe, for example:

DELAWARE INDIANS

MIAMI INDIANS

SHAWNEE INDIANS

  • Lyman Copeland Draper Collection which includes:

Tecumseh Papers Shawnee Chief-1768-1823 Family History Library film: 889237and 887238

  • Moravian Church Records

1870 and 1880 index to Blacks, Mulatto and Indians

1870 Census 5 films Family History Library 1st film 1509480

1880 Census 8 films Family History Library 1st film 1509284

Reservations

From the mid-1800s, the official policy of the United States government toward the American Indian was to confine each tribe to a specific parcel of land called a reservation. Agencies were established on or near each reservation. A government representative, usually called an agent (or superintendent) was assigned to each agency. Their duties included maintaining the peace, making payments to the Native Americans based on the stipulations of the treaties with each tribe, and providing a means of communication between the native population and the federal government.

Sometimes, a single agency had jurisdiction over more than one reservation. And sometimes, if the tribal population and land area required it, an agency may have included sub-agencies.

The boundaries of reservations, over time, have changed. Usually, that means the reservations have been reduced in size. Sometimes, especially during the later policy of "termination," the official status of reservations was ended altogether.

For a current reservation map - Indiana - Indian Reservations - The National Atlas of the United States of America. Federal Lands and Indian Reservations. by the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Geological Survey.

The following list of reservations has been compiled from the National Atlas of the United States of America[5], the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America[6], and other sources. There are current federally-recognized reservations in Indiana.

  • Godfrey Reservation
  • Meshingomesia Reservation
  • Osandiah Reservation
  • Ozahshinquah Reservation
  • Tahkonong Reservation
  • Wapapincha Reservation
  • Wife of Benjamin Reservation

See Also:

References

  1. Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
  2. Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.
  3. Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches, Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc. 1974. (Family History Library book 970.1 H551o.)
  4. Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981. (FHL book 970.1 H551g.)
  5. National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
  6. Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.(Family History Library book 973 E5)

Bibliography

  • "Accompanying Pamphlet for Microcopy 1011", National Archives Microfilm Publications, Appendix.
  • American Indians: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. Washington DC: National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives and Records Administration, 1998.
  • Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981.
  • Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches. New York, New York: Clearwater Publishing Company, Inc., 1974.
  • Historical Sketches for Jurisdictional and Subject Headings Used for the Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880. National Archives Microcopy T1105.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
  • Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.
  • National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
  • Preliminary Inventory No. 163: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Services. Available online
  • Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.

 

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