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Dear Mr. Pearson,
There is no such thing as a “roll number” anymore. For more information, check out the “About Roll Numbers” post on the History Hub. The federal government does not register a person as an Indian or decide who is eligible, the tribe does.
In 1934 Congress passed the Reorganization Act, which gave Indian Tribes the opportunity to set up constitutional governments and decide on their own membership rules. Some tribes chose pre-existing membership lists as the basis for enrollment. From about 1885 to 1940, the Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted a yearly census of Indian tribes under their supervision, known as the “Indian Census Rolls.” Not all tribes are included and not all years are covered in this census. Additionally, having the name on a roll is not the same thing as membership. There are 550+ federally recognized tribes and each determines their membership enrollment. If you find the name of your person on the Indian Census Rolls, you need to get in touch with the tribe to see if they acknowledge the person.
The Rolls were microfilmed by the National Archives (M595) and they have been digitized and made available on Fold3.com and Ancestry.com. The Indian Census Rolls include all the recognized tribes except the Five Civilized Tribes. For information on searching Indian Census Rolls, check out this History Hub post.
If your ancestor is not on the Indian Census Rolls, you might want to research the regular US censuses on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org. If a person was living in the general public as a citizen, they will not be on the Indian Census Rolls, but might be found on the decennial censuses with race listed as Indian.
This response was compiled by Ms. Cherkea Howery.