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Early expansion for land and settlement by immigrants in North American increased as the population grew and expanded. Land was sought by sale, treaty and by force.

In 1887, The United States Congress approved the Northwest Ordinance.The Ordinance set up a government for the Northwest Territory (included land which today is Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota)and provided for the vast region to be divided into separate territories that could petition to become states when the territory reached a population of 60,000 [white] settlers. The Northwest Ordinance accelerated the westward expansion of the United States. Settlers, and land speculators rushed into the Northwest Territory, squatting on Indian lands.

1803, President Thomas Jefferson believed the Louisiana Territory purchase would solve the land problem of Indian and white relations. He thought the Indians would willingly sell their land and relocate to the lands west of the Mississippi river. 

Andrew Jackson officially established the policy of the federal government to remove the American Indians to an area beyond the Mississippi River where they would be "out of the way" of expanding settlement. Although the possibility of such a policy had been debated for some time, it was made official policy through the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

Several tribes were forcibly removed from their homelands to areas deemed unwanted by non-Indian settlers moving from the East into the frontier areas of the time. The most well-known of these removals was that of the Cherokee "Trail of Tears." But there were other tribes who experienced similar situations.

In many cases, the Indians were simply rounded up by the U.S. Army and marched to their new places of residence, often with very little notice, with very little preparation, and with very little planning. 

There are some records of these removals, mostly buried within the set of records known as the General Correspondence Files of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Sometimes the Army made a record of those being removed, called muster rolls after the common military term. Where those have been preserved, most are filed with these General Correspondence Files. The collection has been microfilmed by the federal government as Microcopy M234 and is available at the National Archives in Washington DC, at all of the Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration, and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, as well as at other locations. Some of the records, called emigration records, included in this set of microfilm are:

  • Apalachicola of Florida
  • Cherokee Emigration, 1828-1854
  • Chicago Emigration, 1835-1847
  • Chickasaw Emigration, 1837-1850
  • Chippewa Emigration, 1850-1859
  • Choctaw Emigration, 1826-1859
  • Creek Emigration, 1826-1849
  • Florida  Emigration, 1828-1853
  • Chicago Emigration 1835-1847
  • Great Nemaha Emigration, 1837-1838
  • Indiana Emigration, 1833-1849
  • Mackinac Emigration, 1838-1839
  • Miami Emigration, 1842-1853
  • Michigan Emigration, 1830-1848
  • Miscellaneous Emigration, 1824-1848
  • New York Emigration, 1829-1851
  • Ohio Emigration, 1831-1839
  • Prairie du Chien Emigration, 1837-1841
  • Potawatomi Emigration 1838
  • Sac and Fox Emigration, 1845-1847
  • St. Louis Emigration, 1837-1841
  • Seminole Emigration, 1827-1859
  • Western Superintendency Emigration, 1836-1842
  • Winnebago Emigration, 1833-1852
  • Wyandot Emigration, 1839-1851

See also Indians of the United States and Their Records


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  • This page was last modified on 12 November 2015, at 20:22.
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