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* Native American

In a sense, Native Americans were the first "immigrants" to what is today the United States. Crossing over from far Northeast Asia in migration waves that began before 30,000 B.C., Native Americans succeeded in settling throughout the continent by 8,000 B.C. By the time Columbus arrived in 1492, somewhere between one and two million Native Americans lived on the lands north of the Rio Grande. During the next four hundred years, however, the bulk of the Native American population died as a result of disease and poor treatment by the European settlers and their descendants.

Because most Native American tribes did not develop a written language (with the exception of the Cherokee, who developed a writing system in the nineteenth century), finding primary records of your distant Native American ancestors will likely prove difficult. It is possible, however, that texts written by Europeans or Americans acquainted with the tribe at the time could prove helpful. By the late nineteenth century, almost all tribes were on reservations, so the standard American documents should as birth and death certificates should be available from this time forward.

Contacts and Sources

Many organizations exist which concentrate on a specific tribe. Check in a directory of genealogical societies such as Kathy Keysor Meyer's Meyer's Directory of Genealogical Societies in the USA and Canada to find the organization that suits your needs.

Am-Toola Publications
East 4516 Sixth Avenue
Spokane, WA 99212
Publication: American Indian Family Lines

P.O. Box 5982
Yuma, AZ 85366-5982
Telephone: (520) 343-2755
Publication: The Journal of American Indian Family Research

West Florida Regional Library System
200 West Gregory Street
Pensacola, FL 32501-4878
Telephone: (904) 435-1763

Web Sites

In Helpful Web Sites, you can find links to useful resources about Native Americans.


  • Our Native Americans: Their Records of Genealogical Value, by E. Kay Kirkham (two volumes)
  • A Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians, the National Archives and Records Administration
  • Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian, by A. Klein

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