https://www.archives.gov/publications/p ... ensus.html
The first federal decennial census that clearly identifies any Native Americans is the 1860 census.1 The instructions to the 1860 census enumerators defined who was to be counted and who was not:
Indians not taxed are not to be enumerated. The families of Indians who have renounced tribal rule, and who under state or territory laws exercise the rights of citizens, are to be enumerated.2
Most genealogy guides that address Native Americans in the census incorrectly state that the first federal decennial census in which at least a portion of the Indian population is enumerated is 1870. Although the 1870 census schedule is the first to list "Indian" as a choice in the column heading for "Color," Native Americans were enumerated earlier. Even though the 1860 census schedule does not include "Indian" as a choice in the column heading for "Color," enumerators nevertheless followed the instructions cited in the previous paragraph and recorded more than 40,000 Indians.
The instructions to enumerators for conducting the 1870 census are essentially the same as those for the 1860 census. The instructions for conducting the 1880 census include a definition for "Indians not taxed" and an expanded description of Indians to be enumerated:
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