Introduction to Red Book: Native American

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This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
USA sil.png
the Introduction to Red Book.
Vital Records
Census Records
Background Sources
Land Records
Probate Records
Court Records
Tax Records
Cemetery Records
Church Records
Military Records
Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Archives, Libraries, and Societies
African American
Native American
Internet Resources
County Resources

Research in Native American ancestry produces another challenge and, unlike research for African Americans and other groups, such research relies heavily on federal records and not the county or state material.

The last decades of the twentieth century brought considerable attention to sources for Native Americans, making more of them readily available. Some require a knowledge of Native American beliefs and customs, which makes it important to do background historical and cultural reading. In addition to the sources listed under the states where Native American research requires a special focus, Native American records are cited in the National Archives and Records Service, American Indians: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications (Washington, D.C.: National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1998), available online at under “Publications.”

Edward E. Hill, Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 2 vols. (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1965), explains the administrative structure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and helps locate appropriate records for genealogical purposes. Like his Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1981), Hill’s inventory is an essential reference.

Other important sources include Curt B. Witcher and George J. Nixon, “Tracking Native American Family History,” in Szucs and Luebking, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Inc., 1997), which proves a significant reference tool and provides explanations and descriptions of many available records; and Stewart Rafert, “American-Indian Genealogical Research in the Midwest: Resources and Perspectives,” in National Genealogical Society Quarterly 76 (September 1988): 212–24. See also:

  • Byers, Paula K., ed. Native American Genealogical Sourcebook. New York: Gale Research, 1995. Details records and research sources.

Federal and State Indian Reservations and Indian Trust Areas. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Government Printing Office, stock number 0311-00076). Provides addresses of reservations and other useful resources.

  • Kirkham, E. Kay. Our Native Americans and Their Records of Genealogical Value. 2 vols. (Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 1980–84) lists a number of helpful resources.

The Native North American Almanac: A Reference Work on Native North Americans in the United States and Canada. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994. Overview on history, culture, language, law, religion, and other topics.

Websites that provide assistance in locating resources for Native American research include the Bureau of Indian Affairs at,,,, and the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Service, which lists tribal offices.