If you know you are Cherokee and have ancestors listed on the Dawes Roll, you should find those ancestors listed on the 1900 US Census as living in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory. This is the first US Census that included the Cherokee Nation. If you don't know if your family is listed on the Dawes Roll, then you should pay particular attention to where your family was living on the 1900 US Census. If they were not living in Cherokee Nation, then they most likely are not going to be found on the Dawes Roll. Since the Dawes Roll listed those who were citizens of the Cherokee Nation, only those living in the nation legally are included on it. Any Cherokee who might have left the nation prior to the Dawes Roll will not be listed. Any intruder who was not a legal citizen will not be listed on it. If anyone needs a look up on the 1900 US Census, I have a link in my sidebar where you can post a query and get a FREE look up.
Two of my personal favorite sites to search for information on my Cherokee ancestors are The Doris Duke Collection and The Indian-Pioneer Papers which are which are part of the University of Oklahoma Western History Collections. I usually just enter the surname of the family I am researching and it pulls up several interviews. Of course, they are not always about my ancestors, but sometimes they are. I found an interview by a traveling preacher who said my great great grandfather was the "best Indian friend he ever had". I also found an interview that told about a man that had a falling out with one of my ancestors. The man went to kill him and my ancestor killed him instead! Though none of that information really helps complete the data in my family tree, it did give me insight into the life and times of my family.
Some of my most helpful information has come from Cherokee elders who lived in the same areas of my family. I don't "interview" them, per se, but just visit with them about my family. I do take notes, and sometimes have a list of questions I want to ask them, but not always. Usually once we get the conversation started, the information just starts flowing. I always knew my great grandma's mother died young, but had no idea why she died. While talking to an elder one day, she made a comment about how sad it was my great grandma never knew her mother who had died in childbirth. That was when I finally solved the mystery of my great great grandmother's death! About eighteen months after my great grandma was born, her mother died in childbirth with the next child. If I had not talked with this Cherokee elder, I might have never solved that mystery.
Some other places I have found a little information on my family are The History of the Cherokee Indians by Emmet Starr and articles from The Cherokee Advocate. If you get lucky, you might find something about an ancestor in Gideon's Indian Territory Biographies (not a full list). Sometimes you can even find a tidbit of info in the Chronicles of Oklahoma. All of these sources are free or fairly low cost (the cost of a phone call to an elder or the cost of copies of an article) and worth checking. So, have fun searching and let me know if you have a question or need help.
Those are my thoughts for the day.
Thank you for listening.
copyright 2009, Polly's Granddaughter - TCBTweet