The Choctaw Indian nation traces its history to Mississippi. Along with the Chickasaws, Creeks, Cherokees and Seminoles, it is one of the "five civilized tribes." Between 1898 and 1914, the Dawes Commission required registration of all living members of the five tribes. The list has since been digitized, and anyone can search the records online via the National Archives Catalog; once there, simply scroll through the Choctaw Nation rolls.
Pull Up the Dawes Rolls Index
Start your search at the National Archives Final Rolls index; the page is titled "Digitized Index to the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (Dawes)." Scroll down until you find the entries related to Choctaw, or simply click the "Choctaw" link in the sidebar. Your search will pull up 166 separate entries related to the Choctaw tribe.
Narrow Your Search
The Dawes Commission enrolled Choctaws under nine different categories including "Choctaw by Blood," "Choctaws by Marriage" and "Newborn Choctaws by Blood." The rolls also include "Freedmen" or emancipated slaves and their descendants. A person's category depends on his mother's race. For example, if your ancestor had a Choctaw mother, he will be listed under "Choctaw by Blood." Inside each category, the rolls are listed alphabetically by name. You might have to click through numerous pages until you find the person you're looking for.
Search the Final Rolls
When you find your ancestor, make a note of the roll number listed alongside her name and follow these steps:
- Log onto the National Archives Catalog.
- Type "300321" into the search box.
- Click the link that says "Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory."
- Navigate to the Choctaw Nation rolls. In these pages, Choctaws are listed numerically by roll number.
- Find the person you're researching, and read the entry to learn her age, census card number and blood degree. Use this information to continue your research using the resources listed in the National Archives "Additional Resources" web page.
If You Can't Find the Person You're Looking For
Only individuals living between 1898 and 1914 appear on the Dawes Rolls, so you won't find someone who was born too late or died too early. Plus, individuals were only accepted onto the rolls if they were living on tribal land at the time of registration. Records of denied applications and other records might still be available, however. Visit the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs or, for more information about researching a Choctaw ancestor, visit the National Archives web page "Dawes Rolls: Additional Resources."
- National Archives: Dawes Rolls
- National Archives: Use the Index to the Final Rolls Online
- National Archives: Digitized Index to the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (Dawes)
- National Archives: Look Up the Person in the Final Rolls Online
- National Archives Catalog
- National Archives: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
- National Archives: Additional Resources
A former corporate real estate lawyer, Jayne Thompson writes about law, business and personal finance, drawing on 17 years’ experience in the legal sector. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Birmingham and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts. Find her at www.whiterosecopywriting.com.