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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 in outstanding claims against the U.S. government based upon the Treaties of 1835-36 and 1845. On May 28, 1909, Commissioner Guion Miller, representing the Interior Department, submitted to Congress his findings with respect to 45,857 separate applications for compensation (totaling about 90,000 individual Native American claimants). Miller qualified about 30,000 persons inhabiting approximately thirty-nine states and three countries to share in the fund. Ninety percent of the eligible were living west of the Mississippi River.
Between 2004 and 2009, Clearfield Company published Jeff Bowen’s twelve-volume series, Eastern Cherokee by Blood, 1906-1910, a verbatim transcription of the abstracts of the Guion Miller Commission applications (National Archives Record Group M685). These abstracts name the applicant and include the number of persons in the household, an abstract of each enrollee's case, and the disposition (admitted or rejected). The abstracts also include cross-references to other applications and connections to other families.
The Guion Miller Commission also prepared an index to the 45,000 Eastern and Western Cherokee Applications (National Archives Record Group 123). The index rounds out the abstracts because it identifies every individual found in the applications—not just the applicant—and arranges them by household. It forms the basis for another series of Cherokee genealogical records that complements the Eastern Cherokee by Blood series.
The work at hand, Cherokee Descendants East: An Index to the Guion Miller Applications. Volume I, is a verbatim transcription of the first portion of the index found in National Archives Record Group 123. Volume I refers to the Cherokee applicants living east of the Mississippi River in 1909 (about 3,200 applicants, or 10% of the total). For each head of household named in the application, we are given the following additional information: Guion Miller roll number, city and state of residence, and the names of other householders with their ages and relationship to the head. A history of the Guion Miller Commission and several sample applications precede the index of applicants, while an addendum and comprehensive name index conclude the work. Two additional, larger volumes will cover Cherokee applicants residing west of the Mississippi.