American Indian Enrollment Records
Not all Native Americans have been or are members of a tribe. Some lived apart from the main body of their tribe or clan. Some inter-married with non-Indians and no longer associated with their tribe. And some became dis-associated with their tribe for a number of reasons.
The federal government, for purposes of negotiating treaties with the various tribes, wanted to classify all Indians into a tribe, with leaders called chiefs. To do this, it became expedient to “enroll” individual Indians in tribal groups. The initial effort to enroll was carried out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The following are examples of enrollment records, which sometimes are mistaken as census records:
When the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934, tribal governments assumed the responsibility for enrolling tribal members and setting the conditions for such enrollment.