Demographics

Indian Country Demographics 

 

POPULATION

  • According to the 2010 Decennial Census, 0.9% of the U.S. population, or 2.9 million people, identified as American Indian or Alaska Native alone, while 1.7% of the U.S. population, or 5.2 million people, identified as American Indian or Alaska Native alone or in combination with another race. This is an increase since 2000 of over 39%. With the upcoming 2020 Decennial Census, the population is expected to increase once again.1
  • Approximately 4,871,103 million American Indians and Alaska Natives are of voting age.2
  • About 29% of American Indians and Alaska Natives are under the age of 18, while 21.9% of the total U.S. population is under the age of 18.3
  • The median age on reservations is 29, while the median age for the total U.S. population is 38.4
  • According to the Census Bureau 2018 Population Estimates, the states with the highest proportion of American Indians and Alaska Natives are: Alaska (27.9%),  Oklahoma (17.4%), New Mexico (14.5%), South Dakota (12%), and Montana (9.2%).5
  • By 2060, the projected U.S. American Indian and Alaska Native population is estimated to reach 10 million people, or approximately 2.4% of the U.S. population.6

 

HEALTH DISPARITIES

  • When compared to all other U.S. races, American Indians and Alaska Natives have a lower life expectancy by 5.5 years. This includes higher rates of death from chronic illness, including diabetes, chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, mellitus, and suicide.7

  • American Indians and Alaska Natives die of heart disease at a rate 1.3 times higher than all other races; diabetes at a rate of 3.2 times higher; chronic liver disease and cirrhosis at a rate of 4.6 times higher; and, intentional self-harm and suicide at a rate of 1.7 times higher.8
  • For American Indian and Alaska Native youth, the rate of suicide is 2.5 times higher than the rest of the country. It is the highest youth suicide rate among all other races/ethnicities in the country.9

 

TRIBAL ECONOMIES

  • American Indian and Alaska Native businesses had an estimated buying power of $115 billion in 2018, larger than many countries, including Serbia, Panama, Uganda, and Costa Rica.10
  • The number of American Indian— and Alaska Native—owned businesses totaled 272,919 in 2012, a 15% increase since 2007. The businesses’ total worth of receipts was $38.8 billion, up 13% from 2007.1
  • American Indian— and Alaska Native—owned businesses accounted for 12.9% of all jobs in the state of Oklahoma (96,177 total jobs), while they employed 27,300 jobs in Washington state, 41,700 jobs in Minnesota, and 12,840 jobs in Idaho. In Washington and Minnesota, businesses contributed $255 million and $539 million in goods and services, respectively.12
  • American Indian and Alaska Natives operated approximately 60,083 farms, comprising over 58.7 million acres of land, and conducted $3.33 billion in total sales, with $1.43 billion from crops and $2.11 billion from livestock and poultry.13

 

 PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY

  • Tribally operated law enforcement agencies employ 4,500 full-time personnel and 3,000 sworn officers, as of 2008. There are 1.3 sworn police officers for approximately every 1,000 tribal residents.14
  • Tribal law enforcement, which comprises only 0.004% of the nation’s law enforcement is responsible for patrolling approximately 1% of the total U.S. population and 2% of the nation’s landmass.15
  • The estimated capacity for jails in Indian Country increased from approximately 3,800 in 2015 to 4,090 in 2016.16
  • The rate of assault (homicide) among American Indians and Alaska Natives is more than double the rate for the country as a whole among all races: American Indians and Alaska Natives have a rate of 11.4%, while all races have a rate of 5.4%.17
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to experience violent crimes at a rate of two and a half times higher than the national average, and in comparison to all other racial/ethnic groups, they are two times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes.18
  • 84.3% of American Indian and Alaska Native women, or four in five, will experience violence in their lifetime. In addition, 56.1% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have experience sexual violence in their lifetime.19
  • About 59 percent of tribes have a tribal judicial system.20
  • Over twenty-five tribal nations govern lands adjacent to the national borders or land directly accessible by boat from the national borders. Tribal lands share 260 miles of international borders, which is 100 miles longer than California’s border with Mexico.21

 

ENERGY ON TRIBAL LANDS

  • American Indian and Alaska Native lands contain approximately 5% of all renewable energy resources.22
  • On American Indian and Alaska Native lands, approximately 15 million acres of potential energy and mineral resources are undeveloped, estimates the Department of the Interior.23 
  • Tribal wind and solar energy have the potential to provide 14 percent and 4.5 times the nation’s energy needs, respectively.24

 

FAMILIES, HOUSING AND QUALITY OF LIFE

  • In 2017, there were approximately 574,313 American Indian and Alaska Native families.25
  • The percentage of American Indian and Alaska Native homeowners who owned their own home in 2017 was 459,158 thousand. This is less than 1% of all owner-occupied homes and compares to a rate of 63.8% for the total U.S. population.26
  • The median household income in 2017 for American Indians and Alaska Natives was $40,315. This compares to $57,652 for the nation as a whole.27
  • The percentage of American Indian and Alaska Natives living in poverty in 2017 was estimated to be 26.8%. This compares to 4.6% for the nation as a whole.28

 

TRIBAL LANDS, FORESTS, AND ROADS

  • There are currently 574 federally recognized tribal nations and Alaska Native villages, with the total land mass under American Indian or Alaska Native control comprising about 100 million acres. That land mass would make Indian Country the fourth-largest state in the United States.29
  • The Navajo Nation reservation would comprise the 42nd largest state in the U.S., and is larger than the following 10 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. An additional 19 tribal nations are each larger than the state of Rhode Island, while 12 tribal nations are each larger than the state of Delaware.30
  • There are 305 forested Indian reservations which encompass 18 million acres of forestland, with 6 million commercial timberlands, 4 million commercial woodlands, and 8 million non-commercial timberlands and woodlands.31
  • In 2016, there were 161,000 miles of existing and proposed roads on tribal lands that qualify for federal funding. Of the existing roads, 75% are not paved. Lack of road maintenance has been cited as contributing to low school attendance by students from reservations.32

 

EDUCATION

  • American Indians and Alaska Natives attend post-secondary education at a rate of 17%, in comparison to 60% among the total U.S. population.33
  • At 32%, American Indians and Alaska Natives had the lowest rate of reported zero-absences from school among other race/ethnic groups, from a 2015 survey of 8th graders.34

 

References

1.   U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, January). C2010BR-10: 2010 Census Briefs: The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010.

2.   U.S. Census Bureau; (2018). Table PEPASR5H: Population Estimates, 2018 Population Estimates.
U.S. Census Bureau; (2018). Table PEPAGESEX: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex, 2018 Population Estimates.

3.   U.S. Census Bureau; (2018). Table PEPASR5H: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex, Age, Race Alone or in Combination, 2018 Population Estimates.

4.   U.S. Census Bureau; (2018). Table PEPASR5H: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex, Age, Race Alone or in Combination, 2018 Population Estimates.

5.   U.S. Census Bureau; (2018). Table PEPASR5H: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex, Age, Race Alone or in Combination, 2018 Population Estimates.

6.   U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, January). C2010BR-10: 2010 Census Briefs: The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010.

7.   Indian Health Service. (2019, October). Disparities. Retrieved from https://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/factsheets/disparities/

8.   Indian Health Service. (2019, October). Disparities. Retrieved from https://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/factsheets/disparities/

9.   National Indian Council on Aging. (2019, September 9). American Indian Suicide Rate Increase. Retrieved from https://www.nicoa.org/national-american-indian-and-alaska-native-hope-for-life-day/

10. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. (2018). The World Factbook: Country Comparison. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/335rank.html

11. Minority Business Development Agency. (2016). Honoring 2016 National Native American Heritage Month. Retrieved https://www.mbda.gov/news/blog/2016/11/honoring-2016-national-native-american-heritage-month

12. Dean, K. D. (2017). The economic Impact of Tribal Nations in Oklahoma Fiscal Year 2017. Retrieved from https://www.tribalselfgov.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Alltribe-2019-Impact-Report.pdf
Washington Indian Gaming Association. Washington Tribes: Contributing Now More Than Ever: Community Investment Report – 2012. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonindiangaming.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/FINAL-CIR-WEB-VERSION.pdf
Ryan, B. (2009, June). The Economic Contributions of Minnesota Tribal Governments in 2007. Retrieved from http://www.mnindiangamingassoc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/MIGA_RYAN_REPORT_ON_EC_IMPACT_2009.pdf
Peterson, S. (2014). Tribal Economic Impacts: The Economic Impacts of the Five Idaho Tribes on the Economy of Idaho. Retrieved from https://www.sde.idaho.gov/indian-ed/files/curriculum/Idaho-Tribes-Economic-Impact-Report.pdf

13. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019). 2017 Census of Agriculture. (Report No. AC-17-A-51). Retrieved from https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2017/Full_Report/Volume_1,_Chapter_1_US/usv1.pdf

14. Reaves, B. (2011). Tribal law enforcement, 2008. (U.S. Department of Justice Report No. NCJ, 234217). Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/tle08.pdf
 Tribal Court Clearinghouse. (n.d.). Tribal Law Enforcement. Retrieved from https://www.tribal-institute.org/lists/enforcement.htm

15. Reaves, B. (2011). Tribal law enforcement, 2008. (U.S. Department of Justice Report No. NCJ, 234217). Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/tle08.pdf

16. U.S. Department of Justice. (2019, July). Tribal Crime Data-Collection Activities, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/tcdca19.pdf

17. Indian Health Service. (2019, October). Disparities. Retrieved from https://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/factsheets/disparities/

18. Association on American Indian Affairs. (n.d.). Indigenous Peoples and Violence. Retrieved from https://www.indian-affairs.org/indigenous-peoples-and-violence.html

19. NCAI Policy Research Center. (2018, February). Research Policy Update: Violence Against American Indian Women and Girls. Retrieved from http://www.ncai.org/policy-research-center/research-data/prc-publications/VAWA_Data_Brief__FINAL_2_1_2018.pdf

20. U.S. Department of Justice. (2002). Census of Tribal Justice Agencies. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ctja02.pdf

21. Riley, L. (2017, March 31). Tribes as Equal Partners in Homeland Security. Public Administration Times. Retrieved from https://patimes.org/tribes-equal-partners- homeland-security/

22. U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Indian Energy. (2013, April). Developing Clean Energy Projects on Tribal Lands: Data and Resources for Tribes. Retrieved from https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/57748.pdf

23. Regan, S. E., & Anderson, T. L. (2014). The energy wealth of Indian nations. LSU J. Energy L. & Resources, 3, 195.

24. Cooley, C. A. (2012, August). Mitigating Climate Change on a Tribal Level. Retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/01/f28/cooley_2012.pdf

25. U.S. Census Bureau; (2017). Table B11001C and B11001: Household Type (Including Living Alone), 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

26. U.S. Census Bureau; (2017). Table S2502: Demographic Characteristics for Occupied Housing Units, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

27. U.S. Census Bureau; (2017). Table B19013C and B19013: Median Household Income in the Past 12 Months, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

28. U.S. Census Bureau; (2017). Table B17001C and B17001: Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months by Sex by Age, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

29. Leichenko, R. (2018). Housing and economic development in Indian Country: Challenge and opportunity. New York: NY: Routledge.

30. Utah American Indian Digital Archive. (2008). Navajo: Demography. Retrieved from http://utahindians.org/archives/navajo.html
National Congress of American Indians. (2020). Emergency Management. Retrieved on from http://www.ncai.org/policy-issues/tribal-governance/emergency-management
National Congress of American Indians. (2020). Emergency Management. Retrieved on from http://www.ncai.org/policy-issues/tribal-governance/emergency-management
Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs; Notice of Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, Fed. Reg. Vol. 84, No. 22 (February 2, 2019).

31. Mason, L. (2014, Spring). “Our Land Is What Makes Us Who We Are”. Evergreen Magazine, 8.

32. U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2017, May). Better Data Could Improve Road Management and Inform Indian Student Attendance Strategies. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/684809.pdf

33. Postsecondary National Policy Institute. (2019, October 26). Factsheets: Native American Students. Retrieved from https://pnpi.org/native-american-students/

34. U.S. Department of Education. (2017, July). Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2017. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017051.pdf

 

Updated on June 1, 2020