The Bureau of the Census had many forms for different purposes. One form that was used for the Indian census was Bureau of the Census T625--referred to as the Non-Enumerated Occupation form. This form indicated the occupation of the head of the family, and his or her spouse if there was one, and if he or she was a widow or widower. (This form, and some others, were available to the public in the 1930s through the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.) After the 1930 census, it was used for the enumeration of non-Indian families in 1930.
If a person was listed on the 1930 census, and was not reported on a previous census, this was probably because he or she was deceased. Or, because of a change in their status, such as a move to a town or a reservation. Or, they were not counted in the previous census because they were not on the reservation. Since the deceased could be counted twice (once by the census taker, once by the agent), the only way that the deceased would not be recorded is if their death was mentioned on the form, in the column headed Age at Death. If the age at death is blank, and there is no mention of death on the form, this means the person probably died in the 1930 census. If it was a death in 1929, it was not recorded at all. So, if you have a birth date on an Indian census, without an age at death, this is probably the birth date of the person, rather than their date of death.
The small number of 1930 censuses exist mostly because the original census returns were destroyed by the U.S. Government, probably in the 1940s, to protect the information in case of a national emergency. If the Bureau records were destroyed, a copy was made for the Indian agent, who kept it. From the records of the BIA, we have lists of which censuses were destroyed, or were destroyed but a copy was made, and which censuses were returned to the office in Washington, D.C. along with the census forms.
The instructions for the 1920 Census were essentially the same, although the age of the head of the family was to be filled in. It was urged to include only those who were living at the time, and not those who had moved away and would not be able to be found. In 1930, the Commissioner encouraged agents to include a greater number of people, but cautioned them to avoid including persons who were destitute. The form was to be filled out by the agent in such a way that it would be possible for the Commissioner to determine whether the family was permitted to be included on the rolls.
The instructions for the 1930 Census were much the same as in the previous year, with the exception that the age of the head of the family had to be filled in. It was suggested to place the age on a separate line on the form, and not in the column for the family. The head of the family was now to be designated as the head of the household, and the names of household members were to be listed in the order of their relationship to the head of the family, beginning with the wife, then the husband, then the children, and finally the grandchildren and other dependents. The agent was asked to include all children, even those under the age of 10, if they were believed to be living with their parents. 827ec27edc