[APG Public List] Re: Native American Research

Carolyne Gould carolyne_cwy at yahoo.ca
Fri Feb 19 21:23:50 MST 2010

I have been following the discussions on this topic because Native 
American Research --- and tribal history --- has been a passion of 
mine for most of my 63 years for family reasons. I've done 
professional research in this area for more than 10 years. (I also 
have a passion for all things Elizabethan, who knows why.) All that 
passion is combined with years of experience as an investigative 
reporter and newspaper editor. Objectivity is a must; but objectivity 
without the knowledge acquired through passion won't tell you which 
stone to overturn.

For the young woman in Oklahoma, I would like to add the book "The 
Dawes Commission," by Kent Carter, as required reading if you are 
serious about researching lines within the five "civilized" tribes. 
Many misconceptions about the rolls and the processes used to create 
those rolls are clarified in the book. I believe that with regard to 
genealogy research, there are more misconceptions regarding Native 
ancestry than in any other ethnic or cultural group --- but, that is 
a whole book of information in itself, which I am working on.

I have found that those clients I have who are trying trace their 
Native ancestry are much more passionate about the whole process, and 
much more willing to help (e.g. contacting family members for old 
bible records, etc.) I've also found that most of these clients fall 
into one of two categories: want to know, or want to get. I have lost 
many clients by first finding out "why" they want to do the research. 
Depending on the tribe in question, the answer may mean that even if 
I can trace tribal ancestry, they will still not be able to obtain 
tribal membership. For me, it would be unethical to take their money 
to do research which I know will not obtain the result they seek.

For what it is worth, I also think many genealogy researchers ignore 
the Dawes Packets as irrelevant when a Dawes roll application was 
made in a direct line or even in a collateral line. Many of the 
packets contain copies of birth and/or death certificates and 
marriage licenses, some of which are not available elsewhere. A Dawes 
packet helped me find the daughter of my maternal great-uncle. We had 
a great reunion. (And yes, she is enrolled Cherokee ---- has been 
since the day she was born.)

"To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain 
perpetually a child. For what is the worth of a human life unless it 
is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?
--- Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C."

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