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California Enrollments  -  background

 

In 1928 Congress permitted California Indians to bring suit against the US for lands taken from them. They were defined as Indians residing in the State of California on June 1, 1852, and their descendants. The 1928 roll was approved May 16, 1933, and included 23,571 names. The 1928 roll is part of RG 75, Entry 904. The applications are in Entry 576. The funds were not distributed right away, and in 1933 they had to amend the roll to eliminate the deceased and add those born after. We also have it on Microfilm M1853, which is where Ancestry got it from.

 

In 1944 there was a Court of Claims Award to California Indians. This happened again, with the 1944 funds. The roll had to be updated again in 1948.

 

There was another amendment in 1950 which allowed some of those who had lived outside California to be eligible. A new roll was approved in 1955. That roll of California Indians was prepared pursuant to the Act of May 24, 1950 (64 Stat. 189), and was completed in 1955 (see records in RG 75, Entry 964A).

 

There was also an award made in 1964, from the Indian Claims Commission, see Dockets 31 and 37, RG 279. Later, Dockets 186, 215, and 333 were merged with these, and later still, Dockets 80 and 80-D. The merging occurred as different suits brought by various bands were consolidated to represent the Indians of California (but still did not include splinter groups).

 

The Act of  September 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 860) again provided for the preparation of a roll of persons of California Indian descent and the distribution of certain judgment funds. The new 1968 Act had different standards of eligibility so it had to be an entirely new roll. The deadline for filing an application was December 31, 1969. The completion of the roll was complicated by the existence of numerous “splinter groups” or cases in which a person’s ancestry was derived from groups claiming lands in and outside of California. Some of those groups had already filed claims for lands in California, as well as in adjoining states, and therefore were excluded from sharing in the funds. The 1968 Act provided for the new distribution to include funds residual to the earlier awards.

 

Entry 576  California Applications.  One file, 10645, was a huge application with many names.  It is filed as Central Classified Files #36818-1945-312 Mission.  It has 416 pages, of which 96 are this application.

 

The 1972 California Judgement Roll resulted from the 1968 Act. I do not know where the 1968 – 1972 records are, but suspect they may be in our California regional branches. Our California branches can give information on this judgment roll.

Allotments were made and “trust” patents were issued by the GLO, which kept the land in trust for the individual for a period of 25 years after which he could sell the land for himself. Prior to that time, he/she could petition the Secretary of the Interior to release him/her from guardianship and allow him/her to sell the land. The landowner would be issued a “fee” patent that gave him/her the right to sell the land.

 

Paperwork involved: papers were filed in both the General Land Office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Both the “trust” patent and the “fee” patent were issued by and recorded by the GLO.  Applications for a fee patent went from the BIA Commissioner to the GLO Commissioner. Correspondence concerning the process was filed in the GLO by a letter number.  

 

Files:  The records in the holdings of the National Archives, in Record Group 49, Bureau of Land Management (formerly the GLO) include a series of files called the Indian Fee Patent Files, UD 2297.  These files cover from 1902 through 1911. They contain a copy of the application for a fee patent, correspondence concerning its approval, and sometimes the returned trust patent, with the new fee patent number stamped on this file. The amount of personal information varies from just the name and land description, to quite a lot including mention of heirs and personal descriptions.

 

The Indian Fee Patents Files in UD2297 actually have several subparts. The first 84 boxes are broken down by year, and by file number.  This file number may be an “application number” but it may also be an incoming letter number assigned by the GLO. Box 1 starts with a few files from the end of 1902 followed by 1903 (1902/31654 - 1903/59823) but I have not identified any predecessors to this series. There is new numbering each year, but it does not necessarily start with number 1, and there are many gaps. 

 

The second part, “serial patents” in Boxes 85 through 241 consist of files numbered in order, with no year, from 152992 through 2146328. These consist of forms and correspondence, usually amounting from 1 to 4 pages. The types of form include “Report on Cash Sale of Allotted Indian Land When Patent in Fee is to be Issued,” and “Report on Application for a Patent in Fee.” These are followed by two boxes (242 and 243) marked “New Series, 40000 to 61942.

 

The third part is labeled “unclaimed patents files” and starts over with box 1, #201,450 through Box 19, #1,149,454. The “unclaimed patents” consist of a certificate that identifies the name and the land.  There is no personal or family information.

 

Some of the file numbers seem to represent correspondence numbers assigned by the GLO. Sometimes you can get this number from the top left hand side of the page or image shown by the BLM when you click on patent.  On the occasions when an Indian Trust Patent number appears on the file it does not correspond to the document file number. In other words, the Indian Trust Patent number is not the file number. The information contained in these documents includes the final fee patent number, and often the original trust patent number. But, they are filed and are only accessible by a number assigned by the GLO. To find the BLM incoming letter number look at Entry 2006  Index to LR re Indian Lands and National Forests, 40 index card boxes, arranged by names.  Look up name and get number of the correspondence.  But this does not always work when you go to the Indian Fee Patent files, for whatever reasons!

 

The correspondence, if there is any, consists of letters of transmittal accompanying an application for a fee patent, transferred from the BIA to the GLO, reasons for approving an application, and a letter transferring the fee patent back to the BIA, from the GLO. The Fee Patent was delivered to the landowner by the BIA.

Allotment records started in the early 1800s with some of the treaties. Lands were allotted to certain persons under the provisions of the treaty. In 1887 the General Allotment Act was passed and tribes gradually had their lands surveyed and divided up into parcels for each member. We do not have all the allotment records here in DC. Many are at our regional branches. Some tribes were not included in the general allotment act, and we do not have those records here, including a lot of tribes in Oklahoma such as the 5 Civilized Tribes, Osage, Sac and Fox, Miami and Peoria, and the Seneca of New York as well as Alaska natives, and a strip of land in Nebraska adjoining the Sioux Nation in the south. Most of those will be at the Regional branch in Fort Worth. Allottment records for the Five Civilized Tribes have been digitized and are accessible on Ancestry.com

 

The records we have are mostly for the western tribes, and consist of lists of people eligible for allotments, applications for allotments, allotment surveys, correspondence back and forth between the BIA and the GLO about the process, surveys of plats, trust patents, and inheritance records when an allotment owner died. The allotment policy ended in 1934 with the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act. This is a finding aid for records we have here in DC. There are still some land allotment records that remain in the custody of the BIA and the GLO.

 

The records are accessible by tribe, for the most part.    Record Groups to search:

RG 75 Bureau of Indian Affairs

RG 49, General Land Office/Bureau of Land Management

RG 217, Accounting Offices of the Treasury.

 

Search path:

First check the list of allotment volumes in RG 75 Entry 343, see box list. Find the tribe and request those volumes or loose papers.

 

Next check the files in the Central Classified Files of BIA Entry 121, under 313.1, for allotments.  Decide which agency, request the files for that agency and the 313.1 classification number. These will usually be records relating to inheritance where the legitimate relatives have to be identified. You can also find in the CCF under the classification number 312, the records relating to the request for a trust patent to be turned into a fee patent that could be sold to anyone.

 

Third, check all the separate series of allotments listed in RG 75, and, Entry 102, Special Case 147 (see list of tribes under Special Case 147.) This will have some correspondence related to the process. Use PI 163 or the Guide to search by tribe name for separate series in RG 75. 

 

Fourth, check the land entry case files under each land office in RG 49, by state (see PI 22). These are primarily for lands outside of reservations, in the public domain.  Check in the lists of types of land entry case files in PI 22, under each state. Indian Trust Patents issued in the 20th century for lands outside of reservations may be found in the Serial Patent files. Get the serial patent file number from the BLM site. These may contain an allotment application. You can also find these records for Minnesota accessible online on Ancestry.com. There are a few other things listed in RG 49, to wit:

RG 49, UD 698V  Schedule Of Allotment Selections, Turtle Mountain Indians, 1906-14

RG 49, UD 698O  Records Documenting Jicarilla Allotments And Relinquishments, 1909-50

RG 49, UD 698U {Local Land Office Abstracts Of Chippewa And Stockbridge And Munsee Indian Allotments  In Wisconsin, 1871-95}

 

Fifth, check the allotment rolls in RG 217 (Entries 681-684). Look at the PI index.