Native Americans of Tennessee

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This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D. FUGA for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Tennessee Family History Research series.
History of Tennessee
Tennessee Vital Records
Census Records for Tennessee
Background Sources for Tennessee
Tennessee Maps
Tennessee Land Records
Tennessee Probate Records
Tennessee Court Records
Tennessee Tax Records
Tennessee Cemetery Records
Tennessee Church Records
Tennessee Military Records
Tennessee Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Tennessee Archives, Libraries, and Societies
African Americans of Tennessee
Native Americans of Tennessee
Tennessee County Resources
Map of Tennessee

Most records for Native American families from Tennessee are located in Oklahoma. The main repository is the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior, Muskogee, OK 74401, although another source is the Oklahoma Historical Society (see Oklahoma Archives, Libraries, and Societies). A map showing the various native tribes in Tennessee and early white settlements and forts is entitled Aboriginal Map of Tennessee (see Maps).

Chickasaw ceded their territory in present-day west Tennessee on 19 October 1818. The Cherokee claimed land in the southeastern section of the state until December 1835, when their final exodus began. Even though all land had been ceded, some Native Americans remained in Tennessee after that date.

Data on Native American endeavors and actions was published in The American State Papers, Class II, Indian Affairs. This volume is in the TSLA in closed stacks. A collection of records pertaining to Cherokees (Register Number 11) and the Cherokee Census of 1835 is available to the public. J. J. Hill prepared an index to Emmett Stark's two volumes, Cherokee Families. Both are available in the Metro Davidson County Archives in Nashville (see Tennessee Archives, Libraries, and Societies).

The Eastern Cherokee or Guion Miller Roll is available through the FHL. These records give the names of the Eastern Cherokees who applied for monetary awards in 1905 resulting from a lawsuit against the federal government that the Native Americans won. Approximately 90,000 names appear in these documents. An index is available. Additional sources include:

  • Armstrong, K. M., and Bob Curry. Chickasaw Rolls: Annuity Rolls of 1857'1860 and the '1855' Chickasaw District Roll of 1856. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1995.
  • Blankenship, Bob. Guion Miller Roll 'Plus' of Eastern Cherokee, East and West of the Mississippi, '1909.' 2 vols. Cherokee, N.C.: the author, 1992. Includes accepted and rejected lists with Miller and Dawes numbers, plus additional individual information.
  • Bowen, Jeff. Cherokee Descendants: An Index to the Guion Miller Applications. 4 vols. Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press, 1996. Each volume is alphabetized separately; application number and family groups are shown.
  • Edgington, Billy Dubois, and Carol Anne Buswell, eds. Vital Information from the Guion Miller Roll: Eastern Cherokee Court of Claims, 1906'1909. Mill Creek, Wash.: Indian Scout Publications, 1998. Extracted from original applications. Gives names, including maiden name, application numbers, address, and some vital information. Includes Creeks and Choctaws, also available in a CD-ROM version.
  • Hoskins, Shirley. Cherokee Blood (Tsa-la-gi-yi Gi-gv). Chattanooga, Tenn.: n.p., 1983. Gives application number, descendants, birthplace, and birth date.
  • Jordan, Jerry Wright. Cherokee by Blood: Records of Eastern Cherokee Ancestry in the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906'1910. 9 vols. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1987. Covers applications numbers 1 through 27,800. Each volume is indexed separately. See 'Index to the Applications to the Guion Miller Roll of Eastern Cherokees,' n.p.: USGen.Net, 2002. See].