US Census Reports Multiple Checked Boxes Leads to Native Demographic Growth

Rob Capriccioso

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Census Bureau has released data indicating that almost half of people who identify as Native American report being more than one race.

The research, based on 2010 data, was released January 25. It shows that approximately 44 percent of the Native population – 2.3 million people – reported being American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races. According to Census numbers, this multiracial group grew by 39 percent from 2000 to 2010.

“The multiple-race American Indian and Alaska Native population increased by more than 50 percent in 18 states,” according to the report. “North Carolina, Delaware and South Dakota experienced the most rapid growth in this population at more than 70 percent. In all but three states, the multiple-race proportion of the American Indian and Alaska Native alone-or-in-combination population increased from 2000 to 2010.”

In total, 5.2 million people, or 1.7 percent of the United States’ population, identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, either alone or in combination with one or more races. That equated to a growth in the Native population of 27 percent from 2000 to 2010. 2.9 million residents reported being American Indian and Alaska Native alone, an increase of 18 percent from 2000 to 2010. The total U.S. population increased by 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010, so Native growth significantly outpaced it, but the overall percentage of Natives compared to the overall population remained the same from 2000.

There had been a major push by Native organizations to have more American Indians counted in 2010, in order to make up for what were thought to be past shortfalls in counting and methodology.

Another major finding was that more than three-fourths (78 percent) of the Native population lived outside of tribal areas. “At the same time, most counties with relatively higher proportions of American Indians and Alaska Natives tended to be in close proximity to reservations, trust lands or Oklahoma tribal statistical areas,” the Census reported.

The ten states with the largest number of American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2010 were California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Washington, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan. “Among these states, Texas, North Carolina and Florida experienced substantial rates of growth in this population at 46 percent, 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively,” the Census reported.

In terms of tribal citizenship, the largest number of people who identified with an American Indian tribal grouping, either alone or in combination, identified as Cherokee (819,000), according to the report. Navajo had the largest number of individuals who identified with one tribal grouping and no other race (287,000). Blackfeet had the highest proportion of individuals reporting more than one tribal grouping or race with 74 percent.

The largest Alaska Native tribal grouping was Yup'ik (34,000), followed by Inupiat (33,000). Yup'ik also had the largest number of people who identified with one tribal grouping and no other race (29,000). Among all Alaska Native tribal groupings, Tlingit-Haida had the highest proportion (42 percent) who reported more than one tribal grouping or race.

Throughout the decade, the Census Bureau plans to release additional information on the American Indian and Alaska Native population, including characteristics such as age, sex, and family type, which is expected to provide greater insights to the demographic characteristics of this population at various geographic levels.

The U.S. government uses information on race to implement and evaluate programs or enforce laws, such as the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing Act, Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and the 2010 Census Redistricting Data Program.

Public and private organizations use race information to find areas where groups may need special services and to plan and implement education, housing, health, and other programs that address these needs.

According to the report, Census information also helps identify areas where residents might need services of particular importance to certain racial groups, such as screening for hypertension or diabetes.

More information on specific race groups in the United States is located at under the “Minority Links” section. This site includes further information about the 2010 Census and provides links to reports based on past censuses and surveys focusing on the social and economic characteristics of the Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations.

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wisgriz's picture
Submitted by wisgriz on
Texas, North Carolina and Florida don't these states have a high population of Hispanic people? Did they mark themselves as Native people in the census? Were they encouraged by Hispanic groups or other groups to mark this down in the census? The original native people of these three states in particular were removed to Oklahoma. Have New York and Delaware, with the exception of the Mohawk in the upstate, experienced the same phenomena that occurred in these three states? Wisgriz

ribluebird's picture
Submitted by ribluebird on
wisgris, Yes there are still Seminoles in Florida have casinos and own all the Hard Rock Cafes except for the one in Vegas. In NC you have what is known as the Eastern Cherokee they had hidden themselves in the mountains during the time of the march to OK. Many tribes in Texas that are NA. In NY state you have the 6 tribes of the Iroquois Mowhawk, Onandaga, Oneida,Senaca,Cayaga and Tuscadora all alive and doing well in NY state. Nancy aka RIbluebird

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
anyone can say they are part native american on a census, most are probably not.