Cherokee Rolls: 1896 Applications for Enrollment (Overturned)
In 1887 the Dawes Act authorized the US government to abolish tribal and communal land ownership and open those tracts of land up for white settlement and individual land ownership. The goal was to claim large tracts of land for westward expansion, while also pushing an agenda of assimilation on the American Indian communities.
As part of this effort a census roll was to be taken of each tribe, and parcels of land given to each registered tribal member as an allotments. Then the “excess” land would be sold for settlement.
The “Five Civilized Tribes” (Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole) were originally excluded from the Dawes Act by treaty, but in 1893 an office was set up to persuade these tribes to participate. These 1896 applications for enrollment were the result of that effort.
However, in 1898, the Dawes Act was amended by the Curtis Act to deconstitute the tribal governments and allot the communal lands in Indian Territory. With this amendment, these 1896 applications for enrollment were scraped and a new census roll was taken, known as the Dawes Roll (which was conducted from 1898-1907).
Finding your ancestor on this record does not mean they are Cherokee, it means they applied to claim Cherokee land. If they also later applied to the Dawes Roll and were admitted, then they are Cherokee. This record was never completed or certified, so it’s not a true Cherokee “roll.” Still, there’s a great deal of helpful genealogy information available in the application packets.
If you suspect your ancestor is on this record, you can order the full application file from the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Elements of the 1896 Applications for Enrollment:
Please enter at least three characters of the persons first or last name to search the roll.