Cherokee Nation Tribal Membership

Please Note...

The Cherokee Nation Indian Territory (IT) Project is merely a part of the IT Project of the OKGenWeb Project, which in turn is a part of the USGenWeb Project, a FREE genealogical project, whose aim is to preserve the history of the Cherokee people, particularly during the time Indian Territory existed, from the time of the Trail of Tears in the 1830's to 1907, when Oklahoma and Indian Territory were merged and admitted as the State of Oklahoma to the United States of America.

This web site is not affiliated with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma .

The purpose of this particular page is to answer all questions you may have regarding tribal membership within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and questions regarding the process of becoming a member within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Further, "...possession of Indian blood does not, of itself, entitle an individual to rights or benefits provided by the Federal Government. The payments made to persons of Indian descent represent their shares of the assets of the tribe with which they are affiliated. Consequently, to be eligible to share in the tribal assets, a person must be a member of a tribe at the time its assets are being distributed." (Source: Okla GS Quarterly - Vol 41 *1 1996)

Before you start...

As with all genealogical research projects, start with yourself and work back through the previous Generations. IT IS NOT a good idea to start with someone that was on the Trail of Tears and try to work forward.

At the very least, you will want to identify each ancestor by name, but in order to complete the most basic genealogy project, you will need to research and make note of the following information for each of your ancestors:

(Including Maiden Names of Females)

Date and Place of Birth, as well as, Death


Roll Number for Each Person

Need to Find a Roll Number? See Below
Already Have a Roll Number? Skip to the section regarding CDIB cards.

What is a roll number? / Need help finding a roll number?

During the late 1800's the Dawes Commission was created by the United States government with the purpose of determining those individuals who were eligible for tribal membership, as well as, an allotment of land from the break up of the tribal land holdings. The Commission's work resulted in what is known as the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes, or more commonly known as the "Dawes Rolls," which contain the names of more than 101,000 people. These rolls were compiled during the years of 1899 and 1906. In order to have been enrolled during this period, one must have made application, been residing within the respective tribal boundaries, and prove their membership within their respective tribe. Anyone who died prior to the completion of these rolls had their membership application cancelled, and, thus, do NOT have a roll number.

If your ancester was enrolled during this time period, then they have a roll number and it is this roll number that you will use to complete your application for membership within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. If your ancestor did NOT enroll during this time period, then they do not have a roll numer and, thus, you will NOT be eligible for membership into the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

To locate your ancestors number, you can view the rolls of the Five Civilzed Tribes for FREE at: the National Archives website.

If you do not locate your ancestor on the 1907 Final Dawes Rolls, then it is best to check the 1900 United States Census. The 1900 US Census will tell you whether the person was Indian or not, as well as, their tribal affiliation, blood quantum, whether they were living on tribal land, their "Indian Name," if they had one, etc.

Need to verify this person is your ancestor? Need more information? or Simply want to learn more about your family?

Contact the National Archives

The Dawes Case Files are available from the National Archives:

To request copies of a Dawes case file, indicate that the case is a Dawes Enrollment Jacket. You MUST provide the name of the enrollee, the tribe, the category ("by blood", "minor", "rejected", "freedmen", etc.), enrollment number (if applicable). and census card number.

Requests without this information can not be processed. Copies cost $10 per census card number up to 20 pages and $0.50 per page thereafter. Payment can be made by check, money order, or credit card. Do not send cash. Payment must be exact, so credit card payments generally are the most convenient.  

Please make your requests in writing. Requests are accepted via fax, regular mail, or  
An appointment is strongly recommended to view these case files. Within the United States, overnight deliver is available for an extra $4.00. Please state in your request that you would like this feature and provide your street address and phone number. Please NOTE: No P. O. Box numbers are accepted.

General Information:
National Archives - Southwest Region (Fort Worth)
Building 1, Dock1
501 West Felix Street
Fort Worth, TX 76115
Phone: 817-334-5525
Fax: 817-334-5621

Once you have received the Dawes Case File, and are positive that this person is of your family, next step is to apply for your CDIB Card:

What is a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, or CDIB card, as it is more commonly known?

Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB), are issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

CDIB cards are REQUIRED for membership into the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. (Note: Your application for CDIB may be submitted simultaneously with your application for Tribal Membership.)

CDIB cards 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 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 1907 Final Dawes Rolls.

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

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 1907 Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes

Application forms for CDIB and Tribal Membership are available on-line (in pdf format) from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

What is an "acceptable" legal document?

State Certified, Full Image/Photocopy Of The Original Birth Record from the State Vital Statistics Office signed by the State Registrar, embossed with the State Seal, and bearing a State file number. Or, attach your state certified, full image/Photocopy of the Delayed Certificate Of Birth. ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER TYPE OF COPY WILL BE ACCEPTED.

CAUTION: Some birth records are issued by the hospital, city and county and may be computer generated, abstracted or transcribed. These records are NOT acceptable. You will need to order the record directly from the State Vital Statistics Office and specifically request a STATE CERTIFIED, FULL IMAGE OF THE ORIGINAL BIRTH RECORD.

If attaching a Delayed Certificate of Birth, an Affidavit of Personal Knowledge and Memory is required. Anyone, but the person whose name appears on the Delayed Certificate of Birth, who is 18 years old or older and who knows the facts to be true, may sign the affidavit before a Notary Public.

Example: You found the roll number for your great great grandfather, you will need copies of birth or death records for your great grandfather, your grandfather, your father, and yourself.

In Oklahoma:

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

Any further questions or assistance you can...

Contact the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma directly at: (800) 256-0671

Or, you can contact the Cherokee Nation IT County Coordinator, .