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Genealogy Gazette

Volume 7, Number 12
Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369
July 1, 2015
Publisher's Notes
In this article we discuss Native American research. When you find a Native American line in your family, researching this line can be difficult. Family bibles are always a great place to start if you have one. Church records, government rolls and military records are also very valuable in your search. The stories uncovered with researching the Native American lines are always a favorite part for me.  
Thank you,
James L. Douthat
Mountain Press
Native American Research
I cannot count the times someone tells me they have an Indian Princess in their background and can I help them find out more about her. After I quit laughing to myself on the inside, I don’t usually have the heart to tell them that there is no such thing as an Indian Princess except in India.
The mixture of Native Americans and many of our ancestors, however, is a very common issue as we begin to research our heritage. I could very easily have Shawnee in my blood somewhere, but I have never found it. My great-great-great grandfather lived with the Shawnee after he was captured by them in the late eighteen century. He stayed in their villages for a time before he was sold into slavery to the British and French in Canada. In fact, he wanted to stay there as he was sixteen and ready to marry a Native American girl. However, when his rescuer came, he was needed to help get his sister back to Virginia for safe keeping. Their family had been massacred a few years earlier and there was just him, his sister and and one other brother that was away from home the day the family was killed.
Many families in the south have Native American background and researching these lines can be challenging. Far too many do not have a clue as to the search mechanism for this background as there are few, if any, court records connecting them together. Many of the marriages were never recorded unless in a family Bible or in a church record. Oftentimes these records are scattered far and wide now, but the search for them is worth the effort since it may be the only record of an event.
For Native American research we have to depend primarily on the U.S. Government with all of the various rolls they have taken from the beginning of the nineteenth century and up into the twentieth century. This works well IF the individuals used the correct name and registered. The Native Americans were just like all other cultures of folks, they did not always tell the truth and many rolls contained double entries. Since many Native Americans had multiple names that changed with age and accomplishments, they could enroll (especially if money was involved) under various names. Even with multiple entries, the rolls recorded by the Government are still the first place to look.
Research is also made more difficult since most Native Americans did not have first, middle and last names as the English/Germans. I have never found in the older records a “Running Deer, Jr” or “Running Deer, Sr”. There might be a Running Deer and a Little Running Deer as father/son or grandfather/grandson or even uncle/nephew. The census will also not be much help as they would not have used their Native American names on it. Using their given name might mean arrest and deportation to the west.
One of the most promising areas for Native American research is the military records. In every war since the American Revolution, many Native Americans fought for the American side. Many of them fought in the wars and conflicts prior to the Revolution, but they were not always on the American side in these battles. Take Chief Tishomingo of the southern tribe. He fought with General Anthony Wayne in the Revolutionary War and again with General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. Others like Chief Junaluska of the Cherokee saved Jackson’s life in his attack of New Orleans. After the removal of the Cherokee to the west, Junaluska is reported to have said he should have left Jackson to die on the battle field and history would have been rewritten.
Even in the Civil War there were Native American in many of the armies and in several cases, whole Companies of Native American fought on both sides of the war. In World War II, the Navajo helped in the Pacific as “Code Talkers”. These brave soldiers were taken from their native home land and thrust into the heat of battle just to communicate between themselves in their native tongue to relay messages from Island to Island and base to base. The Japanese were at a total loss as to the new “code” developed by the Allies. Several years ago, I met with two of these Code Talkers in Arizona and they were really fine upstanding citizen of their tribes. The locals hold them in great respect and honor. However, they did not want to talk about their experiences especially in public. The vast majority of them have passed on, but their heritage lives on in the hearts of their tribe.
You can find your research turning up some really wonderful stories of your Native American ancestors, but it does take a great deal of effort to find them.
Happy Hunting!
Native American Books

All Native American Books

Cherokee Valuation Records

General Wool's Cherokee Removal Records

Cherokee Ration Books

Robert Armstorng's Survey Book of Cherokee Land

Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs - Day Book #2

Volunteer Soldiers in the Cherokee War 1836-1839

Memoir of Catharine Brown

Ocoee Land District Maps

Creek Ration Book - June 1838

Melungeons - Yesterday and Today


If you have any questions or suggestions for future editions, please email us at jimd@mountainpress.com.