The Dawes enrollment was about land. It was created to divide the Indian Territory tribal lands into individually owned allotments and pave the way for Oklahoma Statehood. The land had been given to the tribes in a series of treaties that promised, as author and historian Angie Debo quoted, would be theirs “as long as the waters run, as long as the grass grows”. But that promise like many others was eventually broken.
The Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory was created for the purpose of allotting the land. It is commonly called the Dawes rolls because Senator, Henry Laurens Dawes of Massachusetts headed up the Commission that produced the rolls.
The Dawes roll is a census of the Five “Civilized” Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole) and it was taken in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) between 1898-1906. The term “Civilized” is an archaic one which was used to differentiate them from the tribes who lived in more traditional ways. The Five Tribes, lived as many people of European descent did. They were farmers and businessmen, lived in permanent homes, built schools, and many of them owned slaves.
The In-Brief Guide to Researching with the Dawes Rolls contains History, Indian Removal, Organization of the Dawes Commission, Requirements for the Dawes Rolls, Using the Dawes Rolls, and recommended resources. This 4-page PDF guide can be used on your computer or mobile device.