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About the 1896 Applications for Enrollment

For years the 1896 enrollment among the members of the Five Civilized Tribes has created serious issues for genealogists. The enrollment was at the insistence of the Dawes Commission in its effort to determine citizenship within each tribe. The series of problems with this group of records stems from certain individuals or families being enrolled by the federal courts which did not have the jurisdiction to determine who was a citizen and who was not. Moreover, many non-citizens were enumerated who were in fact intruders residing with a particular tribe. The tribal officials fought the enrollment and enumeration and contested the right of the federal courts in Indian Territory conferring tribal citizenship. After much debate, the Secretary of the Interior wisely sided with the tribes, thus the census and enrollment of 1896 was disregarded and would not be used as a basis for enrollment within the tribes. With this latest defensive move by the tribes, the commissioners representing the Dawes Commission sought congressional assistance to force the Five Civilized Tribes to negotiate agreements to prepare a final roll and eventual allotment of lands.

In June 1898, the Curtis Act was passed by Congress which forced the tribes to treat with the Dawes Commission. The 1896 enrollments were scrapped due to inaccurate data. Unfortunately, those individuals who had citizenship conferred by the federal courts were in most cases not notified that their citizenship had been overturned. This led to a variety of legal issues that ultimately prevented large segments of non-citizens from being enrolled by the commission as only the tribes had the authority to determine who was a citizen.

Order Copies

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

The Research Center now offers 1896 Application for Enrollment packets for a flat fee of $30. Be certain to include the information listed in the index, including the individual's full name, tribe and case number. To order by mail use the printable order form or call (405) 522-5225 to order by phone. Please have your credit card ready.