You should read the new book DNA USA by Bryan Sykes.
My experience was some what by accident while researching French-Canadian ancestors. I had contact with a couple of people in the Quebec Province and was asking some research questions. They gave me useful advice, but added that I should not be surprised that the farther I went back (300 years) I might very well find a Native American connection. Ironcially, not long after this an indvidual from Ancestry.com contacted me and steered me onto another relation. To make a long story short, my 10th Great-Grandfather was a full-blooded Abenaki Indian. Now my blood line is quite reduced over the succeeding generations as that makes me 1/1024 Abenaki. Even so, I thought it fascinating and a part of our family history I had no idea about just 8 months back.
Stephanie, a lot of your research is going to depend on the tribe (I assume you mean Native American/Indian) you research and the time period. You basically research your Indian ancestors the same way as your European (or any other ethnic group) as people were born, married and died.
It is the records that may differ as well as the customs of the people. I give talks on Anishnawbe (Chippewa/Ojibwa, Ottawa/Odawa & Potawatomi) people who settled in the Great Lakes (primarily Michigan) and end up with "students" who do not have any Anishnawbe but descend from (primarily) Cherokee, Sioux, Blackfoot, etc. My talk is of no use because of the language, history, etc. It is like being of Polish descent and attending a lecture on Spanish genealogy. Focus on whom you are researching and what tribal affiliation the person may be. You may also be doing more research in Washington, D.C. then normal because it is the Federal government who had the most interaction with the various Indian tribes.
There are some "how to" research books on Indian research. There even a few "how to" research books for various tribes (primarily Cherokee). Once you have identified a tribe read everything you can to learn the history, important figures, migrations, government interaction, etc. Indian are among the most studied group of people and there are tons of anthropological studies, some of which do contain genealogical studies.
Like Kim, my Indian ancestor is from Quebec and 300 years removed, other then her name and two marriages, I know nothing about her parents or siblings, I am stuck with her at that point in time, however her descendants were important/well known in history. Just be patient and stick to it. Take breaks when needed but keep following up leads, write to whoever you need to, use the internet, library, courthouses, etc. Interview all your relatives, follow all their lines back for clues. Again depending on the area and time period, it may have not been "cool" to be Indian and this may affect your research. Good luck. Jim.
James, Do you have any info on the MicMac Indians?
Aline, sorry I do not have anything on the Micmac. Indians are one of the most studied groups and there is a lot of stuff out there. Do searches (don't limit yourself to google, use other search engines such as Dogpile, Ask, etc.) Look at Cyndi's list and Mocavo. Check your local libraries (especially college and universities) for anthropological studies. Then just research them like any other group, Some records will be at the Federal level, others are going to be at the State level. Some will be church records. Contact the enrollment office of the Micmac tribes and ask for ideas on how to do research and sources to use, good luck & have fun.
I've been doing NA Research for about 30 years since a lot of my Germans married into the Five Civilized Tribes of Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Siminole in what is now Oklahoma as early as 1835. This is very difficult research because of the NA Languages and the fact that they had NA names as well as Anglo names and the fact that they were not on Federal Census'. However, the various Tribes did have their own Census' or Rolls and there is a lot written about various tribal members in memory of them. The only advice that I can give anyone is to read the history of the tribe they are researching - this will give you places, etc. Also, most tribes intermarried so if you don't find them in one tribe, you might in another. OSU has a pretty good collection regarding the FCT. And the National Archives has the rolls available. Their are lots of other resources out there as well.