Requirements for proving Native American heritage vary according to the criteria of the individual Native American community and commonly include providing vital records to support relation to an individual included on an early 20th-century census, according to The Root. Some Native American nations, including the Navajo, require that an individual demonstrate a certain blood quantum, which is a rough percentage of Native American heritage.

Each recognized Native American community in the United States is a sovereign with the authority to determine membership in the nation, advises The Root. Most Native American tribes establish strict criteria for membership since tribal membership provides access to benefits such as health care and education. Although many companies offer genetic testing that determines the degree of Native American ancestry, the results of such testing is not sufficient to legally establish membership in many Native American communities though they may provide a starting point for more specific research.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides contact information for tribal leaders of Native American communities to obtain specific membership criteria, notes The Root. The National Archives maintains the Dawes Rolls, an early 20th-century census of certain Native American populations that many tribes use as a basis for determining Native American lineage. Other Native American nations require that applicants have a Certificate Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood card issued by the BIA.