How Do You Look up the Roll Numbers for Cherokee Indians?

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Cherokee roll numbers can be found under the “Dawes Roll” tab on the United States National Archives website, located at The Cherokee are one of the five Native-American nations counted. The website also lists the roll numbers of the Choctaw, Creek, Seminole and Chickasaw.

In 1893, the Dawes Commission was tasked with transitioning the Native-American groups collectively known as the “Five Civilized Tribes” from a communally owned land system to a privately parceled plan. This meant land previously owned by the tribes would be broken up into smaller allotments and given to individuals. In order to equitably divide this property, the commission attempted to create a full tally of the population of the five tribes.

The process was fraught with issues ranging from mistrust of the U.S. Government to what constituted being a member of the tribe. A controversy arose over the exclusion of “Freedmen,” former slaves who had been owned by the tribes, but liberated after the American Civil War. Previously, this group had been considered a part of the larger tribe. Disagreements over the allotment plan lead to many of the “Freedmen” and their descendants being omitted from the final roll count. This prevented them from benefiting from the financial payouts and land dispersal offered by the government.