If you have ties to the Eastern Band of North Carolina Cherokee, the Baker Roll is a vital document. The Baker Roll was the final roll compiled for determining membership in the Eastern Band, but it is only the beginning of the documents included in this database. Along with the roll itself, you’ll find applications for tribal membership, correspondence regarding applications and other matters, transcripts of testimony, copies of decisions and findings by the Enrolling Commission, and indexes created for some of the document collections.
The Cherokee once inhabited parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Some began voluntarily migrating westward to Arkansas during the period between the Revolutionary War and the late 1820s. In 1828, these people, who were by then known as the “Western Cherokee,” were pushed out of Arkansas by the Treaty of Washington and moved on to Oklahoma where they were called the “Old Settlers.” A decade later, they were joined by more than 16,000 Eastern Cherokee who were forced to leave their lands in the East and travel to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) on the “Trail of Tears.” The descendants of these groups comprise two of the three Federally-recognized divisions of the Cherokee Nation.
Those Cherokee who were able to avoid removal make up the third division. Known as the Eastern Band of North Carolina Cherokee, they reside in an area set aside as a land trust in western North Carolina, known as the Qualla Boundary. Since 1924, the Baker Roll has been used to authenticate applications for membership into the Eastern Band of North Carolina Cherokee. In addition, applications were submitted by others wishing to be included. Of 3,833 applications, 3,146 were approved.
The final Baker Roll was submitted in 1928. It was compiled using a variety of older rolls, with notations relating to later correspondence. Typed and written on standardized forms, it included the enrollment number (Baker Roll), cross-referenced numbers from the Hester and Churchill Rolls, family name, first name, relationship to the head of the family, sex, age in 1926, date of birth, degree of Cherokee blood, degree of other Indian blood, and remarks. The following earlier rolls were used to compile the final roll:
- 1835 Census of Cherokees Living East of the Mississippi River
- 1851 Chapman Roll
- 1884 Hester Roll
- 1907 Council Roll
- 1908 Churchill Roll
- 1909 Guion Miller Roll
Applications by those seeking membership in the Eastern Band of North Carolina Cherokee are also included in this collection. Applications were on preprinted questionnaires with eleven questions, some of which have to do with kinship and outline relationships. Interfiled with the applications is correspondence regarding the acceptance or rejection of membership and any appeals filed. Within these records you may find transcripts of testimony, decisions, and more.
Tips for Using This Collection
There are a variety of record types in this collection, so you may find multiple mentions of your ancestor. Be sure to explore all of the hits that pertain to the person you are searching for. Because the applications and subsequent correspondence cover multiple pages, be sure to page forward as well to view entire files.