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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 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 (totaling 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. (Mr. Miller submitted a supplemental report in January 1910 that resulted in another 610 eligibles.)
Volume VII represents an additional 4,200 applications. Mr. Bowen culled every shred of genealogical value from the applications, which in every case provides the application number, applicant's name and city of residence, number of other persons in the applicant's family, references to family members found in other applications, and the disposition of the application. In some instances, 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. In a number of cases, these applications refer to the origins of Native Americans other than Cherokee (Choctaw, Seminole, Creek, Slave, etc.). Mr. Bowen notes these connections in the index to each volume, in parentheses, next to the individual's name.