Genealogy Research

genealogy researchTribal Genealogy

The genealogy research of people of Turtle Island ancestry has many natural and human-made genealogical brick walls to overcome.  A tribal member is a person of Turtle Island ancestry who descends from one or more Tribes of Turtle Island.

A kinship relationship to a Turtle Island Tribe is not determined by race, religion, or legislation.


A tribe and its territory are governed by the custom of Turtle Island since time immemorial.  Tribal genealogy is significant to the history of leadership and inter-tribal kinship relations of the tribes of the Great Law of Peace in Turtle Island.

A tribe consists of individuals, families, and clan lineages.  A clan lineage is a YDNA or MTDNA Turtle Island haplogroup with genetic markers and genealogy unique to a turtle island tribe.  People of Turtle Island ancestry have a genetic relationship to Turtle Island through clan lineages that are thousands of years old.

Tribal genealogy includes inter-tribal and foreign kinship relationships.  Who are the inter-tribal and foreign clan lineages that married into Turtle Island Tribes?

Indian Act Genealogy

The Canada Indian Act is legislation created by a dominion government in 1876.  The dominion government was an extension of the British government over its subjects living in Turtle Island.  A British Indian Act created by the British North America Act over its trading dominion, called Canada.

The British dominion government reserved lands in the unceded territory of Turtle Island.  The British military posted signs throughout Turtle Island the land was reserved for Indians to live on.  Not all people of Turtle Island ancestry moved on to lands reserved by the federal government.

Band Lists

Next the British dominion government created lists of names of Indians who moved on to parcels of reserved lands creating a band from a list of names.  A status Indian is a person who can show descent from a name entered on a band list created by the federal government after 1876, that has not been disenfranchised.

A status Indian band list is about 148 years old.  A “status Indian” is a legal definition created by the British government in its trading dominion.  A band list is not a sovereign Turtle Island tribe.

Indian Act legislation that defines an individual as a registered status Indians constantly changes.  To determine if you are eligible for Indian status, it is recommended you review the legislative changes in the Canada Indian Act regarding registration from 1876 to 2024 for all legislative changes that could disenfranchise your registration.

Status Indians fought against the legislation to remove Indian Act policies that disenfranchised a person for serving in the military, obtaining a post secondary education, and marrying a man whose ancestor was not on a band list.  If you married a woman who was not on a band list, she obtained “Indian status” although not a descendant of a person whose name was on a band list.

Indian Registrar

The Registrar is the sole authority for determining which names will be added, deleted, or omitted from the register based on descent from a name on a band list that may or may not be disenfranchised because of changes to Indian Act membership legislation.

Between 1876 to present, the federal government has made many legislative changes that resulted in the disenfranchisement of status Indian lineages from the Indian Registrar.

Disenfranchisement under the Canada Indian Act only removes a disenfranchised person of Turtle Island ancestry from a federal government band list and does not remove the disenfranchised person from their sovereign tribe, or constitutionally protected existing treaty, aboriginal rights and title.

Research Resources

To apply for Indian status go to the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website and print off an application for status.  Send the filled out application for status to:

Registrar Indian Registration and Band Lists
Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0H4

Genealogy Research Resource Links:

Begin Researching Your Mi’kmaq Ancestry

Beaton Aid Guide

Newfoundland Mi’kmaq Family Genealogy

Mi’kmaq Record Sources From GeneaolgyFirst

More Mi’kmaq Research Sources

Tracing Turtle Island Ancestry

Tracing Turtle Island Ancestry Quebec

Tracing Turtle Island Ancestry Saskatchewan

Tracing Turtle Island Ancestry British Columbia