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Native American Wills and Probate Records 1911-1921
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Native American Wills and Probate Records 1911-1921> Jeffrey J. Bowen. 1997. Softcover, 1997, 8.5 x 11, as new, Index, 162 pages. Never before microfilmed records from the National Archives, these records contain a great deal of personal data for a large number of tribes and individuals.' Tribes listed are: Arapaho, Assiniboin, Cheyenne, Cheyenne River Sioux, Chippewa, Comanche, Crow Creek, Crow Creek Sioux, Devils Lake Sioux, Digger, Fort Peck, Grosventres, Kiowa, Lech.Lk.Pillager Chippewa, Lower Yanktonai Sioux, Miami, Muckleshoot, Nez Perce, Nooksack, Northern Arapahoe, Northern Cheyenne, Oglala Sioux, Ottawa, Pitt River, Ponca, Pottawatomi, Quapaw, Shoshone, Sioux, Standing Rock Sioux, Swinomish, Wichita, Winnebago, Yankton, Yankton Sioux. The author, Jeff Bowen, writes in his introduction: 'Native American Wills and Probate, 1911- 1921, is a series that this author discovered through the National Archives. After finding out that there were eight volumes of Native American wills and Probate records (2568 pages) that had not been microfilmed, at least to the knowledge of myself or anyone that I knew, I immediately started to pursue the filming of this material as quickly as possible. I felt it was extremely vital to Native American genealogical research and heritage that these documents be filmed no matter what the commitment. 'Many times I have heard people say that they don't know what their grandparents' Indian names were. In many of the records of this valuable material, you will read statements where these Native people not only left their worldly belongings to their loved ones, but had the forethought to speak of both their English and Native names. The tribes and reservations mentioned within these pages are almost too numerous to mention, but will no doubt supply a wealth of information to the Native American ancestors of today. This was a time when most Native Americans hadn't even been granted American citizenship yet. But many times they had shown themselves to be more deserving of that precious status than many outside of their race. The decade of 1911-1921 was a time filled with historical importance. The United States government requested Native men to help capture the notorious Poncho Villa, knowing they (the government) needed their tactical skills along with their tracking expertise; oth-erwise the U.S. Army may well have failed their mission. 'The Native Peoples joined the American Army in large numbers to fight in World War I. As much as 30% of the Native American male population volunteered for military service in compari-son to only 15% for the rest of the American public. Considering the Native Americans were out numbered by probably millions, as far as population goes, that says a lot for their belief in the American flag and what it stood for. Yet it was a time when their own lives were still being hindered by prejudice and separation. 'The Native Americans, during this world conflict, managed to confuse the Germans by communicating military intelligence over the American radios in their Native languages, thereby giving U.S. troops huge tactical advantages. The Germans couldn't figure out what these strange words were that they were hearing and never came close to understanding what it was that these men, known as the 'code talkers', were saying.'But still it left these young men in a frustrated state when they came home only to find them-selves again in the land of the free and prejudice. They couldn't vote, vet they were allowed to give their life's blood. They couldn't give their opinion without being criticized and their own Lan- guages were supposed to be a sin to use; yet when they were overseas they knew who they were and were recognized for their achievements. Sadly, only to be soon forgotten. 'These documents do not have a classification in the Indian microfilm catalog, as yet, because they had never been filmed until my request. The few lines that mention them are in the Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians. 'There are also eight volumes of copies of Indian wills, 1911-21, that, pursuant to the act of 1910 and an act of February 13, 1913 (37 Stat. 678), were referred to the Bureau and the office of the Secretary of the Interior for ap-proval. The recommendation of an Assistant Commissioner and the decision of an Assistant Secretary are with each will, and sometimes, there are other accompanying documents.' 'The above description of Native American wills and probate records are listed under, RECORDS OF THE LAW AND PROBATE DIVISIONS. The Law and Probate Divisions evolved from the Land Division, which handled legal matters until a separate law office was estab-lished in 1907. By 1911, this office was usually called the Law Division. An act of June 25, 1910 (36 Stat. 855), authorized the Secretary of the Interior to determine the heirs of deceased Indian trust allottees. Both the Land Division and the Law Division handled work resulting from this leg-islation. In 1913, an Heirship Section was established in the Land Division; which thereafter was chiefly concerned with probate work. By 1917, the Division was usually called Probate Division.' 'Each will has been copied exactly to the best of my ability. A lot of the wills were signed by someone else and then marked (usually by thumb print) by the testator or testatrix. Signatures that appear to be authentic have been typed in italics. Information that appears to have been stamped in a circular or rectangular form on the original will have been typed in a similar shaped form.'