Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
This image from the Library of Congress shows two men seated at tables taking the Census at Standing Rock Agency in South Dakota. It was taken between 1880 and 1900.

11 Places to Search for Native American Ancestors

Myra Vanderpool Gormley

1900 and 1910 Federal Population Schedules

The censuses are valuable because two population schedules were prepared—one for Native Americans and one for all other residents. Indians were asked: (1) To what tribe they belonged; and (2) If their mother or father was Indian—if so, to which tribe did their parent(s) belong. In 1900, in states where there were Indian reservations, more questions were asked. Some of the additional information includes: Indian name, nativity, blood, and marital status.

The population schedules can be found at

World War I Draft Registration Cards

In 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men living in the United States completed a World War I draft registration card. These cards represent about 98 percent of men under the age of 46. The total U.S. population then was about 100 million so nearly 25 percent of the total population is represented in these records. This database can be an extremely useful resource because it covers a significant portion of the U.S. male population in the early 20th century.

If you had family in the United States at this time, you are likely to find at least one relative’s information within this collection. These records often contain significant genealogical information such as exact date of birth, birthplace, citizenship status, and information on the individual’s nearest relative. Access the cards at

This image shows a World War I Draft Registration Card and what it contains on it. (

Tribal Leaders Directory

It provides the name, address, phone, and fax number of 566 federally recognized tribes. There may be an email or website address listed for the tribal entity if it has provided such to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Each tribe is listed in three sections, by the BIA region that provides services, state located in, and in alphabetical order.

Both the 2013 Tribal Leaders Directory, Fall/Winter Edition, and the 2013 Tribal Entities list are available at

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Sharla Laurin
Sharla Laurin
Submitted by Sharla Laurin on
When looking through the census forms, including the Indian Census forms and the Special Indian Census forms, it can be helpful to look through every single year, even though it may seem that the same information is recorded year after year. In my experience of doing the research for a whole extended family, in most years, the same minimal information was recorded, but then when I least expected it, suddenly there would be an Indian name in the proper column for it. It seems the census takers most of the time didn't think this was important or the relatives were not wanting to share the information. Also, looking across the whole page, and on a few pages before and after the one where you find your relative will often reveal other relatives you may not have known about. Really, the Indian Census Forms are so full of information, but you have to put in the time to pull it all out.

howard leslie's picture
howard leslie
Submitted by howard leslie on
My grandma was taken off the Reservation as a baby and given to a white family in Va.around 1895. How in the world do I find her?

cptdisgruntled's picture
Submitted by cptdisgruntled on
Any tips for finding information on Native ancestors in Canada?

vinnetta46's picture
Submitted by vinnetta46 on
My ancestorsr hail from Hyde County, NC site of one of the earliest reservations in US history. After the Tuscarora War end in 1715 the shattered coastal tribes were given permission to settle in the Lake Mattamuskeet area. The original reservation contained more than 10,000 acres. Hyde County chose to list descendants of these tribes on census records as free people of color. Family history tells me my ancestors were members of this reservation. How can I locate info as to which one of the many tribes including Machapunga (Mattamuskeet), Bay River, Pamlico, and Neuse Coree, Woccon, Hatteras and perhaps other small coastal groups in the war my family belonged to?