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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: CDIB
In Response To: CDIB ()

The BIA began, as early as 1920 (perhaps even earlier), issuing a letter to enrollees on the Dawes Roll called a Certificate of Enrollment. This document was also issued to their descendants and showed the name of the enrollee, his/her tribe and blood quantum if any. In other words the descendant carried a copy of their direct ancestors CIE. These documents were issued for all classes of FCT citizens including Freedmen. I have a copy of one issued for an Adopted White from the year 1922. This practice continued up to 1946.

In 1946, at the request of the BIA, Congress passed an Act relative to the sale of lands in the Five Civilized Tribes and the method by which the BIA would determine the degree of Indian blood of the citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes and their descendants who were eligible for BIA services (1/4 bloods or higher) and those requiring BIA supervision (restricted 1/2 bloods or higher).

The Act states that the "blood degrees of the citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes and their descendants shall be computed from their nearest ancestor listed on the Dawes Commission Rolls."

Because the Freedmen, adopted whites and intermarried whites were not under the supervision of the BIA, there was no need to continue issuing a CIE for them. Further, those three classes had no Indian blood quantum next to their name, thus none could be computed for them. And enough of the Dawes enrollees had died and/or had unenrolled children and grandchildren, that another document had to be created.

Using the direction provided by the 1946 Act, the BIA began issuing a Certificate of Indian Descent or CID. These documents, on 8X11 paper, just as the CIE had been, were given to the living enrollee and showed his/her blood quantum as found on the Dawes Roll or, if the enrollee was dead, CID was issued to the lineal heirs showing their blood quantum as computed from the ancestor.

The CID was issued to individuals without them being asked for much documentation. Many erroneous CIDs were issued. It was the philosophy of the BIA, right up to 1984 when tribes began contracting the CDIB program, that only an Indian would claim to be an Indian. Obviously they were wrong. And the fact that many of the names found on the Dawes Rolls are found among other ethnic groups, allowed for tremendous fraud.

Around 1970, although some scholars say 1968, others 1972, the BIA began issuing what was called a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or CDIB. It too was a piece of paper carried by the individual showing lineal descent from a Dawes enrollee with a degree of blood and the degree of blood computed for the individual from the ancestor(s). The document also showed the records submitted by the individual to prove lineal descent to the enrolled ancestor(s). Although quite often, the BIA would not demand records and issued CDIB records on the applicant's word alone. Since there are 14 John Smiths and about as many Will Rogers on the Cherokee Dawes Roll, the problem of malfeasance on the part of the BIA was tremendous and has cost millions in lost service funds intended for Indian people.

As the process for obtaining a CDIB became more sophisticated, meaning that birth and death records were required and the BIA no longer allowed someone to just point to a name and get a CDIB, the number of people seeking a CDIB decreased. And since the BIA was only issuing CDIB records for individual who met their blood quantum requirement for services, set at 1/4 or more, the number of applicants for a CDIB remained relatively small.

However, in 1974, then Principal Chief Ross O. Swimmer, insisted that it was illegal for Indian Health Service to restrict its delivery of services to Indians with blood quantums above 1/4 and that anyone who was eligible for membership in the tribes should be eligible for IHS services. Swimmer even wrote a letter to IHS seeking health benefits for the Freedmen, whom he stated should be treated just the same as any 1/4 blood. Also, sometime in the mid-80s a lawsuit filed in federal court claiming descrimination, forced the BIA to open its services to anyone who could obtain a CDIB. Following these two events, the number of applicants for the CDIB skyrocketed.

Sometime around 1977, the BIA began issuing what they called a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood CARD. The process for obtaining a CDIB remained the same, but the paper document stayed with the BIA and a facsimile was issued to the applicant if requested, along with a small card showing the name of the individual, his tribe, blood quantum, date of birth and the signature of the issuing officer.

In 1984, following passage of PL 638 by Congress, which allowed tribes to contract from the BIA programs serving their members, the Cherokee Nation contracted the CDIB Card program from the BIA. Since that time, CDIB cards for Cherokees have been issued by the Cherokee Nation Registration Office. However, the CDIB still had to show approval by an officer employed by the BIA with his/her signature.

I'm not sure how long ago this happened, but the BIA has relinquished to the tribes the full authority to issue the CDIB and cards, thus only requiring the signature of the authorized tribal official.

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CDIB
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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