Between May 1905 and April 1907, the U.S. Supreme Court authorized the Secretary of the Interior to identify the descendants of Eastern Cherokees entitled to participate in the distribution of more than $1 million authorized by Congress. The purpose of the authorization was to settle outstanding claims made under treaties between the U.S. government and the Cherokees in 1835-36 and 1845.
On May 28, 1909, Mr. Guion Miller, representing the Interior Department, submitted his findings with respect to 45,847 separate applications for compensation (encompassing about 90,000 individual claimants). Miller qualified about 30,000 persons inhabiting 19 states to share in the fund. Ninety percent of these individuals were living west of the Mississippi River, but all of them were considered to be Eastern Cherokee by blood, that is, descendants of the Cherokee Nation that had been evicted from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee in 1835. (The Interior agent submitted a supplemental report in January 1910 that resulted in another 610 eligibles.)
The volume at hand is the first in a new series of books by Mr. Jeff Bowen based on the Guion Miller applications. The author begins with a helpful introduction describing the origins of the Guion Miller rolls and the methodology used in abstracting them. The bulk of the book, of course, comprises abstracts of the first 3,000 of the 45,847 examined by Mr. Miller. Mr. Bowen has culled every shred of genealogical value from the applications (part of Record Groups 75 and 123 of the Bureau of Indian Affairs), which in every case provides the application number, the applicant’s name and city of residence, the number of other persons in the applicant’s family, references to family members found in other applications, and the disposition of the application. In many instances, moreover, Mr. Bowen has supplemented the core elements found in the abstracts with references to other family members by name, relationship(s), and dates of birth and/or death. The researcher will find references to about 8,000 Cherokee descendants in this volume, each of whom is identified in the name index at the back.
Judging from this inaugural volume, the series Eastern Cherokee by Blood, 1906-1910 promises to be one of the most important additions to the literature of Native American genealogy in recent years.