The Dawes Rolls

Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes

The Dawes Rolls, also known as the "Final Rolls," are lists of individuals who were accepted as eligible for tribal membership in the Five Civilized Tribes - Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole. Those tribe members whose applications were accepted were entitled to an allotment of land, usually as a homestead, in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal laws.

Record Type:

Census cards, application jackets and land allotment jackets (original records, microfilm and selected digitized records)



Time Period:

1898-1914 (primarily 1899-1906)

Best For:

Proving descent from the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw or Seminole tribes.

What are the Dawes Rolls?:

In 1893, President Grover Cleveland appointed a commission, chaired by Henry L. Dawes, to negotiate land with the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes. As a result of the negotiations, tribe members were entitled to an allotment of land, in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal laws. In order to receive this land, each tribe member had to apply within the application period and meet certain eligibility requirements.

The resulting lists of the individuals accepted as eligible are the Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory, more commonly referred to as the Dawes Rolls.

The Dawes Rolls contain more than 101,000 names accepted from 1898 until 1907, with a few additional people accepted by an Act of Congress in 1914.

What You Can Learn From the Dawes Rolls:

The Dawes Rolls include the enrollee's name, sex, blood degree and census card number. The census card may include additional genealogical information, including the names of all members living in their household, their tribal enrollment their parent's names and tribal affilation, and reference to earlier rolls such as the 1880 Cherokee census.

Original application jackets can sometimes contain supporting documentation such as birth and death affidavits, marriage licenses and correspondence.

Where Can I Acess the Dawes Rolls?:

The original Dawes Rolls census cards and applications are in the custody of the National Archives at Fort Worth, Texas. They are also available on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, local Family History Centers, the National Archives and its Regional Archive centers. The National Archives has digitized the Index to the Final Rolls and made it freely available on their Web site (see below).

How to Search the Dawes Rolls:

To effectively search for an individual in the Dawes Rolls, you'll need to know at least the individual's name and the name of the tribe. One of the best places to look for this information is the 1900 census, where special schedules identify the tribe of individuals living in predominantly Indian areas. If your ancestor was living among the general population, then do some research to learn which tribes were in the area.

Once you know your ancestor's name and tribe, you can search the Index to the Final Rolls on the National Archives Web site. If you find your ancestor in the index, then you can access their entry in the Final Rolls through NARA's Archival Research Catalog (ARC).

Click the yellow search button and enter "Final Rolls" (without the quotes) into the keyword box. Also check the box for "Descriptions of Archival Materials linked to digital copies."

While in the Archival Research Catalog, be sure to check the census cards available online. Only a portion of the Census Cards are described on the NARA Web site, however, and none for the Choctaw. These can be searched by entering the person's name in the ARC search box.

How to Obtain Copies of the Dawes Records

Copies of the census cards, application jackets and land allotment jackets associated with an individual found in the Dawes Rolls can be ordered directly from the National Archives at Fort Worth.

For Further Research

The Dawes Commission rejected nearly two-thirds of the applications for enrollment, and these rejected individuals are not included in the Final Rolls. Many of these rejected applications can be found among the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The National Archives facility in Fort Worth also has an index that includes everyone who applied.
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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "The Dawes Rolls." ThoughtCo, Dec. 23, 2014, Powell, Kimberly. (2014, December 23). The Dawes Rolls. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "The Dawes Rolls." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 17, 2017).