Historical Information


The 1817 Reservation Roll is a listing of Cherokee Indians applying for a 640 acre tract in the East in lieu of removing to Arkansas. This was only good during their lifetime and then the property reverted back to the state. If the head of the household should die, the land would go to their spouse, or child. If the family were to remove afterward, the land would revert to the US government. To ensure that all allotted "reservations" were properly settled, the Cherokee applicants would participate in a Reservation Census in June of the following year, 1818.

Those Cherokee not applying to the Reservation Roll were required by the Cherokee Treaty of 1817 to remove to Arkansas. Those Cherokee that removed would also be accounted for in a US Government Census in June of 1818. The government would then have a complete census of the Cherokee people. Most Cherokee that applied for 'reservations' were denied, and required to remove to Arkansas under the supervision of a US Government official designated by the state.

An important historical fact concerning the Reservation Roll is that the first time land ownership in a tribe was allocated to individuals instead of a tribe as a whole. This was and entirely new thought for the Cherokee people.


The U.S. Court of Claims ruled in favor of the Eastern Cherokee Tribe's claim against the U.S. on May 18,1905. This resulted in the appropriation of $1 million to the Tribe's eligible individuals and families. Interior Department employee Guion Miller created a list using several rolls and applications to verify tribal enrollment for the distribution of funds.

The applications received documented over 125,000 individuals; the court approved more than 30,000 individuals to share in the funds.

To be approved for funds the individual must:

  1. Be alive as of May 28, 1906

  2. Establish that he/she was a member or descendants of a person that had been included in the forced removal to Indian Territory, known as the "Ross Party"

  3. Not be affiliated with a tribe other than the Cherokee

  4. Submit an application that had to be received by August 31, 1907. Parents or guardians were given the opportunity to apply for minors and persons of unsound mind. Most of these later applications were rejected due to late receipt; however, all contain important individual and family history information.

These applications include:

  • Applicant's English and Indian names, date and place of birth

  • Names and ages of brothers and sisters

  • Place of birth and date of death of parents and grandparents

  • Residence

  • Spouse and children

  • Names of extended family