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Thanks for contacting the History Hub! You are not alone in wondering where to begin, as other researchers have asked this same question. Here is a response that we put together to help researchers get started.
Generally, the most effective way to start genealogical research is by working backwards, from the present to the past, through your family history. Once you’ve gathered information about your ancestors, there are many published resources that can help you narrow down potential tribes your ancestors belonged to. In particular, The Indian Tribes of North America by John R. Swanton lists Native American tribes and groups by location and can be a great source if you know where your ancestors lived or came from. (This book is available online through the Hathi Trust- https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000450061) The Bureau of Indian Affairs also has a guide on doing Native American genealogical research that you may find useful (https://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc002656.pdf). You can also read tribal histories and other secondary sources to fact-check family lore or match stories to the historical record.
The National Archives has a guide on researching Native American individuals and families on their website- https://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans/research-individual. NARA’s Native American Research Guide (https://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans) has lots of resources available once you have tribal affiliations, names, or locations to work from. The records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Record Group 75) contain a great deal of information pertinent to genealogical research, including some documents that have been digitized and are available online through the National Archives catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/).
Good luck with your search!