Family lore is one of the most important steps in finding out your Native American heritage. Did your grandmother or grandfather mention
that there is "Indian blood" running in the family?
If they did, chances are that the legend is still a dead end. Because Native Americans intermarried with both European Americans and
African Americans, and Americans are notoriously a mobile group, definitive ties can be hard to find. But there are a few places to look!
To find out what group your ancestor belonged to, you first need to identify where your ancestor was born. Though not always reliable,
location can be important in establishing your kinship. For example, if you find out that your great grandmother was born in Florida, and
your grandmother says that she was an Indian, she just might have been a Seminole.
With a name in hand - ideally, your ancestor's full name - find out if that name appears on the register of Indians that corresponds to your
ancestor's birth location. For example, if your ancestor from 1803, who you're told was an Indian, was from Mississippi, there's a good
chance he was either a Choctaw or Cherokee.
One major overlooked resource are the primary accounts given by European explorers in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Though
men like Athanse de Mezieres, a French trader who described the Caddo in the 17th century, would not have written down names, you
might discover a lot about your family history just by knowing their group affiliation.
When doing this kind of primary research, bear in mind that the names attributed to the tribes do not necessaritly match what they are
today. The Spanish called the Wichita "Nortenos," and the Caddo were called "Tejas." These first hand accounts are also hard to come by,
making trips to archival libraries necessary.
|Researching Native American Ancestry
|Indian City (Anadarko, Oklahoma) was once a kitschy but very informative tourist spot. It has closed.
|The Indian Baptist Church near Bennington, Bryan County, Oklahoma.