Cherokee Rolls & Census Records Explained

The first “official” Cherokee rolls were taken in 1817 and there were two – the Reservation Roll and the Emigration Roll. Subsequently, between 1835 and 1907, twenty-eight documents compiling lists of Cherokee people were created. This is an explanation of why each document or “Roll” was created.

Reservation Roll 1817

A list of those desiring a 640 acre tract in the east and permitted to reside there. The 1817 treaty allowed for a six hundred and forty acre life estate per head of household, which upon the death of the grantee, or abandonment of the land by the grantee, reverted to the state; microfilm Group 75.

Emigration Roll 1817 – 1838 

Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina
Chronological list of those Cherokee who wish to emigrate. Contains rolls of emigrants, muster rolls of conducted parties, and lists of emigrants able to emigrate by themselves. These “Old Settlers” volunteered to move to Arkansas and relinquish all rights to lands east of the Mississippi River. Microfilm A21
Those who filed to emigrate to Arkansas country and after 1828 to Oklahoma.

Cherokee East of the Mississippi Census 1835

In 1835 the Cherokee Nation contained almost 22,000 Cherokees and almost 300 whites connected by marriage.

Henderson Roll 1835

Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.

Gives the head of families, Indian half-breeds, quadroons and whites with a break-down by age for both male and females. Much other information is given of those who were to be moved to the west.National Archives T-496

A census of 16,000+ Cherokee residing in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina who were to be removed to Oklahoma under the Treaty of New Echota. Also called the Trail of Tears Roll.

Mullay Roll 1848

North Carolina.

County by county listing of 1,517 entries. Gives remarks as to their status, such as deceased, orphaned, and Cherokee and/or English names. This is a census of the Eastern Band. Federal records #7RA-06

A census of 1,517 Cherokee people who remained in North Carolina after the Removal of 1838.

Old Settlers Roll 1851

West of the Mississippi, Cherokee Nation – Northeastern Oklahoma

District by district listing of the names only, some without surnames or in their children’s name. This needs to be compared with the 1896 Old Settler Payment roll for additional information. National Archives Microfilm #M-685 – 12 rolls.

List of Cherokee still living in 1851 who were already residing in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) when the emigrants arrived in the winter of 1839, a result of the Treaty of New Echota. Approximately one third of the Cherokee people at that time were Old Settlers and two thirds were new arrivals. This census did NOT include those Old Settlers who remained in Arkansas, Texas or Mexico.

Siler Roll 1851

Eastern Cherokee Payment Roll

A list of 1700+ Eastern Cherokee who were entitled to a per capita payment, pursuant to act of Congress in 1850.

Drennen Roll 1852

West of the Mississippi – Cherokee Nation in North-eastern Oklahoma

Arranged by districts and contains 14,094 names of individuals who are found in the west. Containing a listing of 102 families who went west prior to the Treaty of New Echota (1835) but returned to the east prior to the removal. National Archives Microfilm #M-0685 12 rolls

First census of the emigrants / new arrivals of 1839. The “Trail of Tears” surviors or New Echota Treaty group.

Chapman Roll – 1852

Indians east of the Mississippi River.

Gives actually a payment receipt roll prepared by Albert Chapman and list the names, age and relationship to head of household for those listed taken from a census by D.W. Siler. National Archives Microfilm #M-0685 12 rolls.

List of those Cherokee actually receiving payment based on the Siler Roll. This roll followed almost immediately the Siler Roll, as a result of complaints by various Cherokees having been omitted by Siler.

Act of Congress Roll – 1854

East of the Mississippi

An Act of Congress that added a few more Cherokee who got left off the Siler and Chapman Rolls. Microfilm 7RA6

1860 Cherokee Nation–Indian Territory

Whites in Cherokee Nation – 1860 Federal Census

Indian Lands were enumerated at the end of Roll 52 1860 Arkansas Census.  [NARA Roll M653-52]

1860 Slave Schedule of Indian Lands

Indian Lands were enumerated at the end of Roll 54 1860 Arkansas Census. [NARA Roll M653-54]

NOTE: This census has nothing to do with Arkansas. It is a census for Indian Lands west of Arkansas in which a U.S. Marshall and his five assistant marshalls enumerated all the white and free inhabitants in the the territories west of Arkansas.

This area was not a state in 1860, but was made up of five Indian Nations. These Indians were not United States citizens. The non-Indians were there either by permit from the Indian Nations, or by intermarriage. Only the American citizens are listed, not the Indians or the children, if any.

Tompkins Roll 1867

Cherokee Nation in Northeastern Oklahoma

A listing of 13,566 individuals in the various Districts of the nation showing their names either in Cherokee or English, sex, age and race. Federal Records Microfilm #7RA-04

Tompkins Rolls 1867

Freedmen Indices for the Cherokee Nation

Alphabetical listing of the first and/or first two letters of the surname giving name, page number and district of residence. Federal Records

Kern-Clifton Roll of Cherokee Freedmen January 16, 1867

Census of the Cherokee East of the Mississippi 1867

Lists the freed slaves of the Cherokee. Microfilm 7A29

Swetland Roll 1869

Eastern Cherokee East of the Mississippi River

A listing of the individual’s name, Swetland Roll number and relationships to head of household, age, Mullay Roll number. National Archives Microfilm (no number found)

List of Cherokee and their descendants listed as remaining in North Carolina by Mullay in 1848. Removal payment authorization by act of Congress (1868).

Cherokee Census – Online here

For the Cherokee Nation
Listing of individuals by districts showing name, nativity, occupation, age, and sex. Some of the six schedules are missing.
Federal Records. Microfilm # 7RA-07
The census of 1880 was authorized by an act of the Cherokee National Council Senate Bill No. 33 on December 1, 1879. This is a transcription of the index for Schedule One and includes all nine districts. 

Cherokee Census Roll

For the Cherokee Nation
District by district listing giving name and age.
This census includes and Orphans Roll, National Prison list and a supplemental Roll of Citizens.
Federal Records Microfilm #7RA-29 rolls 1-2 

Cherokee Census Roll
Microfilm 7RA56

Hester Roll
Eastern Cherokees
Microfilm M685
Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in 1883. Roll includes ancestors, Chapman Roll number, age, English name and Indian name.

Cherokee Census Roll

For the Cherokee Nation
Listing of the head of household and members with
ages, and relationship to head as per the District.
Federal Records Microfilm #7RA-58

Cherokee Census Roll

Cherokee Nation
District by district listing alphabetically showing name, roll number, age, sex and whether the citizen was a Native Cherokee. Adopted Delaware, Shawnee, White or Freedman.
Federal Records Microfilm #7RA-60
Cherokee Payment Roll (The Receipt Roll) Microfilm #7RA59

Wallace Roll – Online here and here
Cherokee Freedmen in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
These rolls were created because the Cherokee citizenship of many ex-slaves of the Cherokee in Indian Territory was disputed by the Cherokee tribe. The establishment of their status was important in determining their right to live on Cherokee land and to share in certain annuity and other payments, including a special $75,000 award voted by Congress on October 19, 1888. A series of investigations was conducted in order to compile the rolls of the Cherokee Freedmen.

Cherokee Census Roll
Microfilm 7RA54.

Starr Roll

For the Cherokee Nation
Listing by enrollment number of head of household, names of members of the household, amount of payment, name of person receiving the payment and name of witness.
Federal Records Microfilm #TRA-38 rolls 1-5

Cherokee Census Roll

For the Cherokee Nation
By District and Roll number the individual’s name, age, sex, precinct, per cent blood or nativity, and place of birth.
Federal Records Microfilm #7RA-19 rolls 1-2

Old Settler Payment Roll

All descendants of those living in Cherokee Nation 1851. Three listings are given 1. Those living old Settlers, and 2. Heirs of the Old Settlers. 3. An index of those Old Settlers not found.
National Archives Microfilm #T-985

Kern-Clifton Roll of Cherokee FreedmenIndex Online
The Kern-Clifton Roll came about when the Cherokee Nation disputed the number of Freedmen included on the Wallace Roll. The Kern-Clifton Roll actually increased the number of people eligible for payment. Includes Cooweescoowee, Illinois, Saline & Tahlequah Districts. 651 applications received, 3277 persons applying for citizenship, final was 2530 authenticated and 1878 unauthenticated claims

Dawes Enrollment Cards – Index Online here and here
NARA Index to the Final Rolls (Dawes)
Final Allotment Rolls
For all Cherokee
Listing by enrollee’s name, post office, district, number (if assigned), parent’s name and their district of residence, previous enrollments, variations of names, and much other information is given.
National Archives Microfilm #M-1186 93 rolls.
Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory consisting of 634 pages of names. The Dawes Commission was organized in 1893 to accept applications for tribal enrollment between 1899 and 1907 (some were added as late as 1914), mostly from Indians who resided in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Tribal membership entitled qualified individuals to land allotments from the U.S. Government. These enrollment records were eventually published as the Dawes Commission, also known as The Five Civilized Tribes, which consisted of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Tribes. Various categories of the Cherokee found on the Dawes Roll.
The final roll for allotting the land and terminating the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The roll turned out not to be as final as expected. Upon the reorganization of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in the 1970’s, the Dawes Roll became the only means of certifying membership.

Information on enrollment with the Cherokee Nation.


Freedmen Enrollment Card Numbers  
Index by Roll Number

Black Cherokees
This list of surnames represent the names of the freedmen who were adopted through the Dawes Commission, between 1898 and 1916.

1900 U.S. Federal Census – Indian Territory
by Enumeration District

Churchill Roll
Eastern Cherokees
Taken to certify members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Like Hester, it includes a lot of information, including degree of Blood. Rejectees are included.

Guion Miller RollIndex Online
NARA Index to Guion Miller Roll

Citizenship Applications & Census Cards
Many applications and census cards have been transcribed.
Eastern Cherokees

For all areas
Alphabetical listing of head of households by those east and west of the Mississippi. Giving the name, relationship to head of household, age in 1906, Miller Roll number, Miller Application number and Dawes Roll number. There are 30,820 on the list with only 3426 living in east. Rolls contain both admitted and rejected.
National Archives Microfilm #M-1104 12 rolls.
Did not include Old Settlers. Census ordered as result of a suit won by the Eastern Cherokee.

Baker Roll
Eastern Cherokees
Current Membership Roll for Eastern Cherokee
The Baker Roll Revised is the current membership roll of the Eastern Bank of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

Categories of the Cherokee as found in the Dawes Commission Roll

Cherokee by Blood means the individual’s parent(s) were Cherokee and (generally) that the parents had appeared on a previous census of the Cherokee – but not always.

Minor Cherokee by Blood means (for the purposes of Dawes) an individual born during the enrollment period (Cherokee in Oklahoma ended Sep 1, 1902). There were some children on Dawes born between 1902-1906 who were admitted if their parents were on the 1902 Roll.

Delaware Cherokee are those listed as Delaware were adopted into the Cherokees. The Delaware were in the very northeast corner of Indian Territory.

Cherokee by Intermarriage were white spouses adopted into the tribe as Cherokee.

Cherokee Freedmen were ex-slaves (of African descent) of Cherokee citizens. Before the Dawes Commission Freedmen had to established that if they removed from Indian Territory prior to or during the Civil War, they returned thereto prior to Feb. 11, 1867 and resided continuously. Freedmen were admitted to Cherokee citizenship once these two criteria were proved up.

Minor Cherokee Freedmen were minor children of Cherokee Freedmen who were born during the enrollment period (Cherokee in Oklahoma ended Sep 1, 1902). There were some children on Dawes born between 1902-1906 who were admitted if their parents were on the 1902 Roll.

“Act of Congress” Cherokee refers to those who were enrolled by an Act of Congress, Aug. 1, 1914.

Records of the Guion Miller Enrollment of Eastern Cherokees

United States Court of Claims acquired jurisdiction, pursuant to an act of July 1, 1902 (32 Stat. 726), over claims arising under treaty stipulations with the Cherokee tribe. Three suits were brought against the United States under the Treaty of New Echota (May 23, 1836) and the Treaty of Washington (Aug. 6, 1846): The Cherokee Nation v. The United States (general jurisdiction case 23199), The Eastern and Emigrant Cherokees v. The United States (general jurisdiction case 23212), and The Eastern Cherokees v. The United States (general jurisdiction case 23214). The court ruled in favor of the Eastern Cherokees, May 18, 1905, and directed the Secretary of the Interior to identify those persons eligible to share a special Congressional claims compensation appropriation of June 30, 1906. Guion Miller, first as a special agent of the Department of the Interior, and after April 29, 1907, as a special commissioner of the Court of Claims, compiled a roll of eligible persons, which he submitted with a report to the court on May 28, 1909. Miller submitted a supplemental roll and report, January 5, 1910, containing additional names. The rolls were approved by the court and payment authorized, March 15, 1910.

In compiling his lists, Miller utilized earlier rolls, including those prepared by Interior Department special agents Alfred Chapman, Eastern Cherokees, 1851; John Drennan, Western Cherokees, 1851; and Joseph G. Hester, Eastern Cherokees, 1884.
Access Genealogy
First People of Tennessee, Cherokee Rolls
Mary Turner Kinard Archives
NARA – Native American Records
NC Cherokee Reservation Genealogy