Native American Archives

Discovering a National Treasure

Posted Feb 27, 2019
Last Updated Feb 27, 2019

by:  Billie Fogerty

A 1934 Act of Congress established the Oklahoma Historical Society as the custodian for the records ofthe Five Civilized Tribes (Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek,and Seminole Indians),as well as the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Tribes of Oklahoma. In 1978 it was designated as an affiliate ofthe National Archives. It is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Museum.

It is located in the new Oklahoma History Center across from the state capitol in OklahomaCity. Treasures include many one of a kind historic maps, Lewis and Clark treaties signed by Thomas Jefferson, and many more. 

The website fort he American Indian Archives can be accessed at

Archives Director William D.Welge says “The American Indian Archives consists of federal Indian records placed in the society's custody in 1934 by act of Congress. Containing over 3.5 million documents and some 6,000 plus volumes, it represents 66 of the 67 tribes that eitherwere relocated to Oklahoma by forced removal, or who are native to the state.

Most principal of the collection wil lbe the records of the Five Civilized Tribes. These records of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creekand Seminole date from circa 1856  to 1906. The national records of these tribes contain primary documentation oft he executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as district and county records. Extensiveinformation about agriculture,census, citizenship, education, Indian-white relations, law enforcement anda variety of aspects of life in Indian Territory can be found in hese documents

A significan tportion ofthe American Indian Archives are federal records of the various Indian agencies established to administer reservation activities among the tribes relocated to the territory during the nineteenth century.These records spanthe period from the 1860s to1933. Agencies and tribesincluded in this group are:  Cheyenne and Arapaho; Kiowa (Apache, Comanche, Kiowa, Wichita, Waco, Tawkoni, Caddo, Kichai and Delaware); Pawnee (Pawnee, Ponca, Nez Perce, Ottawa, Confederated Peoria, Quapaw, Seneca, Eastern Shawnee and Wyandot);  Sac and Fox-Shawnee( Ioway, Mexican Kickapoo, Citizen Band Potawatomi, Sac, Fox, and Absentee Shawnee).

Also included are records ofthe Indianschools establishedi n IndianTerritory such as Chilocco and Mekusukey Academy. These valuable collections of agency files provide important data as to the day to day operation of agency affairs. Files will include Indian culture, census and annuity ,per capita, leases especially cattle grazing and pasture, field matrons, farmers, ceremonies ,allotments andc ustoms just to name a few.

 Of special note will be the records of the Dawes Commission, whose primary function was to administerthe enrollment of the citizens and Freedmen (former African-American slaves), of the Five Civilized Tribes in preparation for allotment of land prior to statehood.

Much of the primary records of the Five Civilized Tribes is utilized by individuals researching for ancestors who may have been enrolled by the Dawes Commission. The records allow the researcher to determine if they can qualify for tribal enrollment today. Since the mid-1970s new importance has been placed upon the records of the Five Civilized Tribes.These records provide the only source for determining tribal membership with a tribal entity today.

Using a combination of enrollment records produced by the Dawes Commission, supplemental documentation can be ascertained by searching voluminous records o fthe Five Civilized Tribes for possible linkages from the ancestor to the researcher.” (From the Online Introduction to the Archives at

A Glimpse at the Scope of the MicrofilmHoldings


Cherokee NationalRecords                  1800- 1908

189 0Census of the Cherokee Nation

Cherokee National Council Minutes      1863 –1905

Permits to Non-Citizens

Land Records and Estray Property Records

Supreme Court Records                      1867 –1898

Marriages                                              1839 –1924

Marks and Brands

Citizenship                                           1871 –1925

Intruders                                             1859 –1904

Outlaws, Pardons

Letters sent andr eceived about removal to the west

Female Seminary, Male Seminary

Allotment Plat Maps


Census of 1818

1890 Census of the Chickasaw Nation

1896 Census of the Chickasaw Nation

Choctaws in the Chickasaw Nation       1896

Chickasaw National Council                 1876 –1901

County Court Records                         1849 –1906

Supreme Court Records                      1858 –1907

School Records                                   1872 –1928

Permits to Non-Citizens                      1868 –1906

Marriages                                           1875 –1899

Foreign Relations

World War I Physicians


Census of Non Citizens                       undated

1892  Census of CreekNation


Citizenship Applications

Listof Civil War Officers                      1862 –1865

Orphans Annuity                                1883

Journal of the House of Warriors          1868 –1903

Creek National Council                        1859 –1909

Supreme Court                                   1868 –1899

Blacksmiths                                        1868 –1893

Intruders                                           1876 –1908

Marriages                                           1878 –1894

Light Horse                                         1868 –1900

Schools                                              1867 –1911

Wills                                                   1864 –1887


Census and Citizenship                       1830 –1899

Census of Choctaws by Blood & Marriage   1861-1929

General Council                                  1855 –1910

Laborers, Renters,& Others                1887 –1906

Marriage Records                                1857 –1906

Estate Records

Court Records                                     1858 –1906

Civil War documents

Divorce                                              1863 –1905

Permits to Non-Citizens

Students in the States - Schools          1869- 1900


Miscellaneous                                     1866- 1923

Schools and Students                         1910 –1929

Cheyenne and Arapaho

EnrollmentLists                                  1870 –1882

1881 US Census of Cheyenne/Arapaho

Clams Against the Federal Government  1871 – 1932

Foreign Relations                                1871 –1933

Indian Captives                                  1870 –1920

World War I

Indian Removal                                  1871 –1887

Permits & Passes                                1871 –1923

Indians Absent or Missing                   1876 –1931

Intruders                                           1875 –1923

Births                                                 1875 –1933

Marriages                                           1879 –1933

There are also documents fromthese otherTribes: Kiowa, Pawnee, Otoe, Tonkawa, Kaw, Ponca, Quapaw, Sac & Fox, and Shawnee.The IndianS chools are included and 80 rolls of microfilmon the Dawes Commission Records.There are Indian Territory Court Records and 72 microfilm rolls of US District Court Records. There are more than 100 microfilms rolls of assorted records relating to Indians and the areas they controlled.

One of the significant collections is the Indian Pioneer Papers. The Indian- Pioneer Papers oral history collection spans from 1861 to 1936. It includes typescripts of interviews conducted during the 1930s by government workers with thousands of Oklahomans regarding the settlement of Oklahoma and Indian territories, as well as the condition and conduct of life there. Consisting of approximately 80,000 entries,the index to this collection may be accessed via personal name, placename, or subject.  It is housed at the University of Oklahoma Western History Collection and has been digitized and is online at

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