Dear Mr. Owens,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
When embarking on Native American genealogy, please note that the records in the custody of the National Archives (NARA) often only detail those living on the reservations or being administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. If an ancestor was Native American and left the reservation or did not have interaction with the United States Government as such, they will not be recorded in NARA’s records and tracing their genealogy may be difficult.
In general, Native American tribes began creating their own constitutions and rules for enrollment in the 1930s. Prior to that, censuses conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) functioned as a record of tribal membership for the purposes of receiving benefits from the BIA. The National Archives maintains no records of enrollment at any date; individual tribes would retain those records.
We suggest that you begin by talking to your various family members, especially the more senior ones, and ask them questions so you can gather names, dates, places, and stories. With that information in hand, you may begin to gather records about these family members and the places associated with them. In addition, NARA’s Native American Heritage webpage, NARA’s Resources for Genealogists webpage, and the FamilySearch Research wiki for Indigenous Peoples of the United States Genealogy may be useful.
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!