Before you start, write down what you know or have been told by family members. Learn as much as you can about names, dates, and locations (localities) of where your Native American lived. You will need to record and trace back generation by generation. By gathering and organizing the information relatives may offer, you can sometimes determine tribal possibilities. Once tribal affiliation is known, you can write to the office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the particular tribe to learn more about early tribal records.
The eighth floor of Dallas' J. Erik Johnson Central Library is home to the genealogy section which contains many Indian resources. The U.S. census records (1910 and earlier) are available not only for the southern states, but a wide number of eastern, western and northern states. Patrons may also view the Dawes Rolls (five civilized tribes), the Guion Miller rolls (Cherokee only), and population schedules for 1860 Indian Lands west of Arkansas. While many of these records are viewed on microfilm, the library has an excellent collection of published census indexes, county histories, and numerous printed source books to help locate your early ancestor.
Records on Native Americans prior to 1830 will provide the researcher an adventure into the pages of a American history, as early records are more difficult to locate. The regional branch of the National Archives (located in Ft. Worth) houses documents pertaining to tribal enrollment, allotment of land, and some probate.
Annual Indian census lists began in the 1880's. You may be lucky and find your ancestor listed. Sometimes Indian and English names are listed for the same ancestor. However, these Indian census lists do not prove tribal affilitaion. You must find your ancestor on an enrollment list for tribal affiliation.
Another excellent resource for genealogical research is the local branches of the Family Hisotry Library (The Church of Jesus Christ of the Later-Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church). Check your phone book for the location nearest you. You may link on with someone else's research and save hours of valuable research yourself.