Search billions of records on

Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory Research
Part of the OKGenWeb Project
Home >History >Genealogy >Maps >Queries >Resources


Genealogy Tips
Cherokee Research  

Where To Start

Application Forms


In tracing your Cherokee lineage there is one word that is very important to always remember  LEGAL”. It is necessary to prove that you are legally related to your ancestor. To obtain membership to any Native American Tribe you have to prove legal relationships with legal documents.

The Cherokee Tribal Membership 

Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB), are issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is a Department of the US Federal Government.

Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) are traced only through the natural (biological) parents. In cases of adoption, Indian ancestry must be proven through biological parents to an enrolled ancestor.

The CDIB (or "white card", as it is often called) lists a person's "Indian blood quantum." Quantum of Indian Blood is "computed" from the nearest paternal and/or maternal ancestor(s)' of Indian blood listed on the Dawes Rolls.

In other words; if you had one parent on the Dawes Rolls whose "blood quantum" was listed as 4/4ths (100%), you would be deemed to have 1/2 of your Indian parent's blood quantum --i.e., 50%.

To obtain a CDIB, you must formally apply for one and provide acceptable legal documents which connect you to an ancestor who is listed with a roll number and a blood degree from the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, Cherokee Nation.

Application forms for CDIB and Tribal Membership are available on-line (in pdf format) from the Cherokee Nation Registrar's office.

Tribal Memberships:
To be eligible for Tribal Membership with the Cherokee Nation, you must first be able to present a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB), issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

To obtain Cherokee Tribal Membership, you must formally apply through the Cherokee Nation -- Office of the Registrar.

Application forms for CDIB and Tribal Membership are available on-line (in pdf format) from the Cherokee Nation Registrar's office.

The acceptable legal documents which may prove your ancestry, must be drawn exclusively from Primary Sources to be able to obtain CDIB or Tribal Membership.

As you trace your family, you will want to research and collect certain kinds of documents, which prove that you are legally related to a particular individual, and that one-generation is legally related to another. You may also want to include other information, which reflects the character and personal details of your ancestors’ lives.

Genealogical Documents Fall Into Two Basic Categories:

1. Primary Source Documents: Generally defined as “government records made at the time of the event, by the parties involved. These are the only sources accepted for CDIB or Tribal Membership.

2. Secondary Source Documents: These include just about every kind of printed material that doesn’t come from government records, but from information that was published or recorded at the time that your ancestors were living. These secondary sources are strongly encouraged, as this is the kind of information, which reflects the character, and personal details of your ancestors’ lives. It renders your genealogy less mechanical in nature, and more like a story of your family history.


1. Birth Records:

From 1908 to 1916 only sketchy records are available in Oklahoma.

From 1916 through to the present records Vital Records are searched by name, by county, by date of birth.    NOTE: Before 1947, all birth records are filed under the father's name. After 1947, all birth records are filed under the child's name.

Division of Vital Records
Oklahoma State Dept. of Health
100 NE 10th Ave.
P. O. Box 53551
Oklahoma City, OK 73152-3551

Birth Affidavits for Minor Cherokee born (1902 –1906) were included in the Dawes Applications, and are available from:

Oklahoma Historical Society
2100 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4997

Guion Miller Applications also include birth dates and proof of family relationships. These are available from:

John Vaughn Library/Ballanger Room
NSU (Northeastern State University
Tahlequah, OK 74464

2. Death Records:

From 1908 to 1916 only sketchy records are available in Oklahoma.

Some death records were also recorded in the Dawes and Guion Miller Applications.

3. Marriage Records:

Marriage Records are usually available from the county clerk in the county where the marriage occurred.

Some marriages of Cherokee Citizens were also recorded in the Dawes and Guion Miller Applications.

4. Census Records

Oklahoma Federal Census Records are available for the years 1900-1930.

5. Probate Records:

Wills, estates, guardianship and other legal papers should be available from the county court clerks office.

6. Land Records and Plats:

Purchase and sale of property usually record residency and marital relationships.

Available from county clerks office.

Cherokee allotment Plats of 1906 were recorded and available at the Cherokee County Clerks Office Tahlequah, OK.

Allotment information is also available in book form  at the Rudsill Branch of the Tulsa Public Library System, Tulsa OK.

7. Military Records:

These records include muster-in and muster-out dates, pay vouchers, pension papers, military bounty and land warrants.

These records are available from:  
National Archives & Records Service
8th and Pennsylvania, NW
Washington, DC 20408

8. Church Records:

These records often contain birth, death, marriage and funeral information.

Another good source is the book: A Guide to Cherokee Documents in the North-eastern United States by Sr. Paul Kutsch this book is available on microfilm from the Oklahoma Historical Society.

9. Court Records:

These Civil and Criminal records are kept on the county level from the date the county was formed to present.

May also be found in the circuit or superior court where the event occurred.


1. Bible Records:

Include Photo copy of the page showing publisher, date of publication, pages showing names, dates and event. Also identify and not current location and owners of the family bible.

2. Obituaries:

Include name of newspaper and location. Most public libraries maintain archives of local newspapers.

Date and Identify

3. Newspaper Clippings

Include name of newspaper and location. Anniversaries, biographical sketches, awards, marriage and other noteworthy events are frequently published in local papers.

Date and Identify

4. Family Histories/ Genealogies:

Published family genealogies are especially valuable. Include photocopy of the title page, publisher, date of publication and not direct ancestral descent. Identify and not the current location and owners of the book

Date and Identify

5. County Histories/Portraits and Biographical Histories:

Many Oklahoma counties have at least one history with biographical information.

Published works – date and identified)

6. Personal Papers:

Un-published records include personal letters, diaries, journals, reunion records, and manuscripts.

Many un-published Cherokee documents are indexed in Kristen L. Southwell’s Cherokee Nation Papers, Inventory and index, that is available from:

University of Oklahoma Western History Collections
630 Parrington Oval - Room 452
Norman, OK 73019

7. Tombstone Inscriptions:

Include names and location of cemetery. Make copy of headstone inscription either by photograph or transcribing.

As you obtain these documents you will need a place to transcribe the information found for each person and make it easier to work with.  You will find on the Cherokee Nation Genealogy page links to several places where you will find printable family group sheet and several other forms that will help you sort this information into a workable form.


You found this information at
© 1996-2003 - All Rights Reserved
Updated: 07 Apr 2003
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Visitors