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Decennial Census Records

Censuses of American Indians

1990 New Mexico Enumeration
An enumerator (right) conducts the 1990 census in New Mexico
on horseback.

Prior to 1900, few Indians are included in the decennial federal census. Indians are not identified in the 1790-1840 censuses. In 1860, Indians living in the general population are identified for the first time. Nearly all of the 1890 census schedules were destroyed as a result of the fire at the Department of Commerce in 1921.

Beginning with the 1900 census, Indians are enumerated on reservations as well as in the general population.

Available Records:

Enumeration of Pueblo Indians: 1850-1870 New Mexico Territory Censuses: Arranged by county, then village or Pueblo. The schedules provide name, relation to head of household, and often, age. Although the indication of race is often unreliable, many Pueblo are listed as non-White. The racial designation of inhabitants of Taos Pueblo, for example, is "copper" in the 1850 Census and "Indian" in the 1860 and 1870 Censuses. Not all Pueblo are included in the book indexes.

For more information about these microfilmed records, see the National Archives Selected Records Relating to Enumeration of Pueblo Indians, 1790-1939.

1857 Shawnee Census. A census of the Shawnee Indians tribe was taken as part of the Kansas Territorial Censuses, 1855-1859. At the end of roll 1 of the 1857 census is a census of Shawnee Indians in Kansas Territory, taken in conjunction with the treaty made with the tribe on May 10, 1854. The census is in two parts. Each part has a rough alphabetical index preceding it. In the index to part one, personal information such as relationships to other enumerated Shawnees has been added beside some of the names. In the census of Johnson County in 1858, Shawnee Indians in Shawnee County are listed. There is no name index for this census.

Microfilm Publication Title: 1857 Shawnee Census

Microfilm Publication ID/Catalog Info: M1813

1880 Special Census of Indians. A complete list of the tribes included in this census is found at the beginning of roll 1. There is no name index for this census. Section 8 of the census act of March 3, 1879 (20 Stat. 475), authorized the Census Bureau to enumerate all Indians not taxed; that is, those on reservations or in unsettled areas. With the budget provided, the Census Bureau undertook enumerations in Washington Territory, Dakota Territory, and California. The Census Bureau used a special Indian population schedule containing 48 questions. The descriptive pamphlet (DP) for M1791 contains a list of the questions.

Enumerations were completed for the following reservations in Washington Territory:

  • Roll 1—Tulalip and Port Madison
  • Roll 2—Swinomish, Muckleshoot, and Lummi
  • Roll 3—Yakima

An enumeration was completed for the following reservation in Dakota Territory:

  • Roll 4—Standing Rock

An enumeration was completed for the following reservation in California:

  • Roll 5—Round Valley

Microfilm Publication Title: 1880 Special Census of Indians

Microfilm Publication ID/Catalog Info: M1791

1930 Navajo Enumeration
Reverend Smith enumerates a Navajo family during the 1930 census.

1890 Census Report. The Report on Indians Taxed and Indians Not Taxed in the United States (Except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890 (1894) (see 1890, Final Reports) consists of statistical summaries followed by descriptions of each tribe. These descriptions are arranged by state and usually include the number of people on the reservation, the location of the reservation as well as a description of the schools, sources of income, health problems, and religion. Photographs of buildings and people are interspersed throughout. Information on individuals is very rare.

1907 Census of Seminole County, Oklahoma. This census was taken pursuant to a presidential directive ordering a census of the population of Indian Territory and the Territory of Oklahoma prior to their admittance to the Union as the State of Oklahoma. Only the schedules for Seminole County, in what was then Indian Territory, survive. Enumerators were to identify Indians by "In" in the color or race column. There is no name index for this census.

Microfilm Publication Title: 1907 Census of Seminole County, Oklahoma

Microfilm Publication ID/Catalog Info: M1814

For more information:

American Indians in the Federal Decennial Census, 1790-1930 Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940 (Note that the U.S. Census Bureau conducted a census of American Indians in 1950. These records will be available to the public in 2022.)
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: December 17, 2020