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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - June/July 2004
Charlotte and Lee County Genealogical Societies


Dawes Commission Enrollment Records

The Dawes Commission, was created by the United States Congress in 1893 under the Dawes Act with Senator H. L. Dawes as chairman. The goal of the commission was to exchange Indian tribal lands in the southeastern United States for new land allotments to individuals in Oklahoma. The Dawes Commission was also known as the "Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes". This process was to be accomplished by securing the consent of the various Indian Chiefs to the extinguishing of tribal land titles and by allocating lands to individuals. Between 250,00-300,000 people applied to this commission for enrollment and land. Just over 100,000 applications were approved.

Genealogists would find these records most useful if your ancestor was:

a. A member of either the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek or Seminole Indian tribes in the southeastern United States

b. Alive during the enrollment period between 1896 and 1905. If your ancestor died prior to 1893, you could search for surviving children or grandchildren using the Dawes Commission records as well.

The content of Dawes Commission Records would normally include the following types of information:

a. Enrollment Cards (also known as census cards) include residence, roll numbers, names of family members, relationships, ages, sex, degree of Indian blood, enrollment date, place and number, parents and their enrollment date or place, spouses, divorces, and children or grandchildren.

b. Applications for Enrollment include affidavits, vital records, letters, questionnaires. decisions mentioning relatives, dates, and places.

c. Letter Logs would include the name of applicant, address, date of letter, file number, date received, subject of letter, and action taken. letters are normally filed with the applications.

The most useful reference tools for accessing information for Dawes Commission Records are the following titles:

United States. Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. Index to the Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedman of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory. Washington, DC: Govt. Printing Office., 1907.

United States. Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedman of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory. Washington, DC: Govt. Printing Office., 1907.

United States. Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. Enrollment cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1186, Washington, DC.: National Archives, 1981.

United States. Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. Applications for Enrollment of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1301. Washington, DC: national Archives, 1981.

United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Index to Letters Received by Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1897-1913.National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1314. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1983.

If you fail to find your ancestor's name in the index you may need to be creative in the spelling of names. Also consider looking for your ancestor by his or her English name, Indian name, middle name, nickname, initials, married name, or maiden name. Consider the possibility that he or she was listed under a different tribe or category than you expected. Look through each of the 29 sections of the index.

Your ancestor's application may also have been rejected. The Dawes Commission ultimately rejected over 60% of the applications. An index to most rejected applications can be found using the National Archives website for the NARA Archival Research catalog assistance homepage at www.archives.gov/research_room/arc/arc_info/genealogy_search_hints.html. Upon entering this page, scroll down until you reach the Native Americans section and follow the instructions.

Bryan L. Mulcahy
Reference Librarian
Fort Myers-Lee County Library
2050 Central Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33901-3917
Tel: (239)- 479-4651
Fax: (239)- 479-4634


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