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Ask-the-Pros – Question and Answer – More about American Indian Ancestry

Ask-the-Pros is a feature of the Family History Expos website. The feature is available from a link appearing on many of the pages of the website. If you ask a question, it will be reviewed and may be answered in this blog. It may be some time before your question is answered in a formal blog post.

Question:

I have a relative who was born in Alabama in 1868 and died in Texas in 1927. I have always been told she was Comanche Indian, the two census records that I have located her on do not state that she is Native American. I can’t find any death certificate for her, I do have a location for her burial. I am wanting to know how do I go about proving Native American lineage or disproving it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. thank you for your time.

Answer:

In time period and places mentioned in the question, there is really not much difference between doing research for Native American ancestors than there is for any other people living in the United States. However, the mention of the “Comanche” tribe is problematical. The Comanche are plains Indians whose historic territory included the areas now in eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma and most of northwest Texas. The federally recognized Comanche Nation is headquartered in Lawton, Oklahoma. If the ancestor was born in Alabama in 1868, there would be an immediate question as to how a Comanche Indian came to live in Alabama in that time period, immediately following the U.S. Civil War?

If you look at the FamilySearch Research Wiki article for Indians of Alabama, you can see a number of tribes listed, none of which are Comanches. Four of the tribes are included in the designation as the Five Civilized Tribes, were native to area included in Alabama; the Cherokee, ChickasawChoctaw, and Creek. Note that all four of these tribal names start with the letter “C.”

I would suggest doing some basic research about your ancestor and her family and children. You could start by contacting the cemetery where she was buried to see if they have any records about the burial and/or the family. You could also start with Texas Deaths and Burials, 1903 -1973 and the Texas Death Index, 1903-2000 available for free on the FamilySearch.org website. You should begin concentrating on marriage, church and school records to see if there is any mention of her ethnic background. The issue of Indian heritage may resolve itself as you gather more detailed information about her life and that of her children. You may still be able to find someone living today who knew her personally.

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