Researching American Indians and Alaska Natives

Five Civilized Tribes--Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Tribes in Oklahoma:
Dawes Records

Background on the Dawes Commission

Flowchart for researching Dawes Records

The Dawes Act of February 8, 1887 marks a turning point in determining tribal citizenship. This Act developed a Federal commission tasked with creating Final Rolls for the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma (Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles). The Commission prepared new citizenship rolls for each tribe, incorporating names of approved applicants while simultaneously documenting those who were considered doubtful and ultimately rejected. Upon approval of the Rolls, the Dawes Commission allotted a share of communal land to the approved individual members of these Tribes. The Dawes Commission required that the individual or family reside in Indian Territory to be considered for approval.

While the official process started with the 1896 Applications, these were eventually declared null and void. Two years later, the Curtis Act amended the process and required applicants to re-apply even if they had filed under the original 1896 process. With new guidelines in place, the Commission continued to accept applications from 1898 through 1907, with a handful accepted in 1914. The list of approved applications created the "Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory".

Dawes Records

Click here for information related to the tribal enrollment process

The most requested Dawes Commission records are Census Cards, Enrollment Jackets, and Land Allotment Jackets. Researchers generally start with Census Cards and then continue with Enrollment Jackets and Land Allotment Jackets. These three records can include:

Census Cards
(Enrollment Cards)

Available on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com
Enrollment Jackets
(Dawes Applications or testimonial packets)

Available on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com
Land Allotment Jackets
Available on FamilySearch.org
  • Name and variant spellings
  • Names of parents and extended families
  • Residence or nearby post office
  • Tribal enrollment
  • Age and gender
  • Census card and enrollment card numbers
  • Occasional annotations regarding birth, death, changes in marital status
  • Occasional cross references to other census cards or actions
  • For Freedmen: the applicant’s previous owners and the owners of the applicant’s parents
  • Census card and enrollment numbers
  • Name and variant spellings
  • Names of parents and extended families
  • Residence or nearby post office
  • Tribal enrollment
  • Transcripts of testimonies and correspondence regarding the application
  • Occasionally information regarding birth, death, marriages, divorces
  • Occasionally affidavits from family members, friends, or neighbors
  • Enrollment number
  • Name of applicant
  • Names of parents and extended families
  • Physical location of land
  • Legal definition of land
  • Description of improvements on land
  • Printed annotated plat maps
  • Correspondence regarding the land
  • Notices of contested allotment selections
Click here for more information and samples of these records.

*Rejected Applications will have a Census Card and Enrollment Jacket; however, it will not have a Land Allotment Jacket.

For a Prologue article about the Dawes Commission's enrollment of the Creek Indians, please see:

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