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1896 Applications for Enrollment

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About the 1896 Applications for Enrollment

For years the 1896 enrollment of the members of the Five Tribes has created issues for genealogists. These records pertain to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole tribes. The 1896 enrollment was done at the insistence of the Dawes Commission in an effort to determine tribal citizenship. Some individuals and families were enrolled by the federal courts, which did not have the jurisdiction to determine who was a citizen and who was not. In addition, many non-citizens were included who were in fact intruders residing with a tribe. Tribal officials fought the enrollment and enumeration, and contested the authority of the federal courts in Indian Territory. After much debate the Secretary of the Interior sided with the tribes. The census and enrollment of 1896 was disregarded and was not used as a basis for enrollment. The commissioners representing the Dawes Commission sought congressional assistance to force the Five Tribes to negotiate agreements to prepare a final roll and eventual allotment of lands.

In June 1898 Congress passed the Curtis Act, which forced the tribes to treat with the Dawes Commission. The 1896 enrollments were scrapped due to inaccurate data. Unfortunately, individuals who had citizenship conferred by the federal courts were not notified that their citizenship had been overturned.

Access the records

Visit the Research Center to view the application packets and information on microfilm.

Order copies

The Research Center offers 1896 Application for Enrollment packets for a flat fee of $35. When requesting a packet be certain to include the information listed in the index, including the individual's full name, tribe, and case number. Order by mail with the printable order form or call 405-522-5225 to order by phone. Please have your credit card ready.

OHS collections include the 1896 census cards and enrollment packets, if available. Packets vary in length; some include numerous pages of information about the individual while others may include only a single page. Please note there are very few packets available for the Creek tribe.