A word of advice from Rachal Mills Lennon, an expert on Southeastern Native American research:
“The first and best rule is this: one should proceed to research the family in the same manner as if the Indian tradition did not exist.”
The two largest groups of modern Cherokees are the western Cherokee Nation (http://www.cherokee.org) located in Oklahoma where the Cherokees were sent in 1838 – 39, and the Eastern Band of Cherokees (http://visitcherokeenc.com/) here in North Carolina. This guide focuses on resources dealing with the Eastern Band.
Once you have some clues indicating that a particular ancestor was Cherokee, consult the following books for information on specific resources:
To find other books on Cherokee history, search our catalog by Subject for Cherokee History.
You must meet the requirements to become a member of the Eastern Band:
Go to: http://visitcherokeenc.com/play/culture/genealogy/
Official Government Website of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Go to: https://ebci.com/enrollment/
*Blood quantum is calculated from your ancestor listed on the 1924 Baker Roll. No DNA/blood testing is performed or acceptable for this calculation.
The 1924 Baker Roll is available in the following locations:
There are many people who do have Cherokee ancestors even though they are not eligible for tribal membership. Below are some other sources used for working on the genealogy of a Cherokee family.
A good starting point: these articles that describe the various "rolls" -- lists of tribal members -- taken at different times in Cherokee history.
The 1909 Guion Miller Roll is of major use to Eastern Cherokee researchers. According to the National Archives, the "roll was prepared by Guion Miller from 45,847 applications covering about 90,000 persons. The applications, which have been reproduced on 348 rolls of microfilm as M1104, were received from persons living all over the United States (not just in Indian Territory) and contain the applicant's' name, residence, age, sex, place of birth, and information about children, parents, and other relatives. The index to applicants, which is reproduced on roll 1 of M1104, covers all of the applicants including the more than 60,000 whose claims were rejected." The publication, Records Relating to Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910, on microfilm as NARA M685, includes the final roll, testimony of witnesses, and copies of the earlier census rolls used to make the final determinations.
These files are included in Ancestry Library Edition as "U.S., Records Related to Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910." They can be searched and all the original applications have been digitized.
Fold3 has a "Native American Collection" within the "Non-military records" that includes Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909 (M1104) and The Guion Miller Roll (M685).
Go to: https://fold3library.proquest.com/barcode?accountid=11047 Log into Fold3 with your library card.
The National Archives provides a free online name index to the applications submitted for the Guion Miller Roll. These are digital images of the original typescript Index to Applications Submitted for the Eastern Cherokee Roll of 1909 (Guion Miller Roll)." You have to look through it; it is not searchable.
Go to: https://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans/rolls/guion-miller.html#list
The following books also have information relating to the 1909 Guion Miller Roll:
"North Carolina, U.S., Native American Census Selected Tribes, 1894-1913" located in Ancestry Library Edition. Census books enumerating Cherokee Indians living in communities and counties on the Cherokee or Qualla Reservations in western North Carolina are in this database.
"U.S., Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940" located in Ancestry Library Edition. This database contains an index to the Indian census rolls from 1885-1940. Includes Cherokee (North Carolina) 1898-99, 1904, 1906, 1909-12, 1914; 1915-22; 1923-29; 1930-32; 1933-39.
These web pages have hints and links for Cherokee research:
The Catawba’s ancestral territory was in the border areas of North and South Carolina. Their headquarters today are in Rock Hill, York County, South Carolina.
To find books on the Catawbas, search our catalog by Subject for: Catawba Indians.
If you are interested in searching for other Native American ancestry:
Author: Gaston County Public Library
Title: Finding Cherokee & Catawba Indian Ancestors
Revised: 20 November 2020
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