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Arizona Pioneer History – How To Conduct Native American Family History Research For Free
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Arizona Pioneer History – How to Conduct Native American Family History Research for Free

This article is the second in a series aimed at helping you conduct free Arizona Pioneer History and genealogy research. It will concentrate on locating Native American records or resources.

Before beginning, we acknowledge that a debate exists regarding which term (“Indian,” “Native American” or “Indigenous People”) should be used. After consulting with several usage and style guides that say the terms are synonyms, we opted for the term “Native American” because we want our readers to know that we are focused on those tribes that lived in “America.” While many historical records often used the term “Indigenous” (we used that term in our first article) we suggest the preferred practice is to use the exact tribe name whenever possible.

Federal Resources

Our research for this article revealed that the best sources for Native American genealogy resources come from government entities.

Census records are incredibly useful because they provide the name of each person living in one residence and their relationship to the head of household. Late 19th and early 20th century Census records include the individual’s country of origin, parents’ birthplaces and the individual’s occupation. They were generally taken once every ten (10) years.

The National Archives in Washington, D.C. offers a free leaflet titled, “Genealogical Records in the National Archives” which is regularly cited as a sound resource for your Census research.

You don’t have to travel all the way to D.C. to look for information. The Archives’ regional center has a location close to Arizona at Riverside, California. Its genealogy research department can be reached at (951) 956-2000 and self reports that it is “a major resource for the study of Native American history.”

One American Indian Council reports that a free “Guide to Tracing Your American Indian Ancestry” is also produced by the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Public Affairs – Indian Affairs. You can easily retrieve a copy after a quick Google search.

Another interesting searchable database is “Mission 2000,” maintained by the Tumacacori National Historical Park, a division of the National Park Services, U.S. Department of the Interior. The database reflects Spanish Mission Records and can be searched by race or tribe, surname or event place and/or year.


When you use federal resources that have searchable databases, consider using various combinations of keywords to determine which search queries will yield the best results. Early on in your research project, if you make an on-going list of the sites that are beneficial, you can refer back to the list to visit those same sites in the future to see if they have been updated with new infomation.

In our third installment of this series, we will provide you with Arizona state and local resources which can be useful in conducting Native American surname family history research. Until next time…we remain, yours in history.

Street Talk

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