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The New York City skyline as seen from high above the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

Top 5 Cities With The Most Native Americans

Sara Schwartzkopf

From coast to coast, one can find Native Americans and Alaska Natives from every nation scattered across the country. With 78 percent of Natives living off the reservation, you might wonder which cities have the greatest number of Natives living in them.

Utilizing data from the 2010 census, here are the five cities with the greatest number of indigenous people:

Number 5: Anchorage, Alaska

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Also the city with the greatest proportion of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, Anchorage is home to 36,062 indigenous people. The Smithsonian Institute houses their Arctic Studies Center out of the Anchorage Museum, researching and educating on northern indigenous peoples. In addition, Anchorage is home to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which educates visitors on Alaskan Native culture, but also offers programs for Native youth, classes in art, creative writing, cultural awareness and soon indigenous languages.

Number 4: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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With 39 federally recognized tribes and the second greatest percentage of Native Americans in the country, it’s unsurprising that a city from Oklahoma made the list. The city’s 36,572 indigenous residents make their presence known every June with the three day Red Earth Festival, showcasing dancing, singing, storytelling, poetry, music and art. The city will also eventually be home to the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum – a $110 million project designed to educate the masses on Oklahoma’s unique Native history.

Number 3: Phoenix, Arizona

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Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes, and Phoenix itself is home to 43,724 indigenous people. The Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest and first Native American non-profit in the entire country and, since 1947, has offered services to help the community in employment, education, Navajo language-learning and culturally-based health programs. Each March, the Heard Museum also offers the state’s largest Indian Fair and Market, featuring more than 700 Native artists.

Number 2: Los Angeles, California

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California is the state with the largest percentage of Native Americans and 54,236 of those people live in Los Angeles. The United American Indian Involvement provides services for mental and physical health, as well as youth education for urban Natives. The Southern California Indian Center organizes the area’s largest pow wow every November in addition to running programs to aid families around L.A. They also run InterTribal Entertainment, which provides training for Native Americans looking to get into the entertainment industry, and works to develop, produce and market Native-focused film and television projects.

Number 1: New York, New York

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The largest city in the country also has the largest indigenous population with 111,749 people. Each year, the Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow – the largest and oldest in the city – is held at the end of July at the Queens County Farm Museum. The city is also home to the American Indian Community House which offers health services, counseling, job training and placement, as well as a performing arts program. 

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smd's picture
Submitted by smd on

vincentnative's picture
Submitted by vincentnative on
I thought I should share this : Winnipeg has a significant Aboriginal population, with both the highest percentage of Aboriginals (11.7%) for any major Canadian city, and the highest total number of Aboriginals (76,055) for any single non-reserve municipality. Winnipeg also has the highest Métis population in both percentage (6.3%) and numbers (41,005) We are alive and kicking in Canada as well!

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Who woulda thunk it? NYC as #1. So much for the stereotype that we're all rural rubes who just stepped off the Rez. It would be interesting to research the percentage of those Natives who moved to the big cities in the 50s when assimilation into the work force was being pushed after WWII. It would be equally interesting to see which of those NDNs in currently living in rural areas returned home after becoming disenchanted with city living.

nikkiru's picture
Submitted by nikkiru on
Surprised Minneapolis wasn't on the list, since it was such a (ahem) popular destination for relocation under the termination policies.

CJKlepper's picture
Submitted by CJKlepper on
I am surprised Houston, Texas was not on the list, or that matter the State of Texas. Houston is the first major city in the nation to employ Native Americans in professional levels like a deputy medical examiner while the cities bordering reservations still looked at Natives as being inferior when it comes to professions such as lawyers, doctors, and even college professorships. I was fortunate to have worked in a Fortune 500 company half of my life without ostracism.

swkyle's picture
Submitted by swkyle on
The Census utilizes "self identified" criteria for Native American populations, including those who have a Cherokee princess ancestor or think they have "blood" but are not sure. It does not guarantee a sociologically significant count of enrolled Native citizens.

sonnyskyhawk's picture
Submitted by sonnyskyhawk on
The data collected for this article lacks information and I truly believe we would be better served if it was made available. As you know, media thrives on numbers. We could do something about providing numbers in these and other cities for Professionals, Policemen and women, all professions for that matter, and really do justice to how many Native people contribute to what we now call America.

Ahmed Kayi Han
Ahmed Kayi Han
Submitted by Ahmed Kayi Han on
The Native Americans have the best opportunity to regroup and unite and become powerful and significant once again, increase your population and work hard to support your family. Remember, your ancestor spirit lives within. As a sociologist, I say each American Indian family should have at least 5 children or more. It brings family unity, love and closeness to one another. Its time to reach your former power and significance. This land was yours, and is still yours by right. Take It! Population always has a significant effect, and is always a significant factor. In the end, numbers talk. It determines your very existence or your very demise. Couple that with an educated and powerful united young generation, and nothing will hold you back... I believe its time for all Native American nations to unite and stay together and support each other. I believe tribal warfare back 500 years ago isn't relative at all nowadays, as they all have a common problem. Each Native American should support one another, stick together and remember the Red blood that flows amongst each other, being carved out of the same Red clay, and created from the same Red earth. - Peace from Turkish brother, linked to you way back from before the Bering straight crossover days...

Melissa Baker
Melissa Baker
Submitted by Melissa Baker on
well this is the largest number, not the largest percentage. So it makes sense that NY, which is the largest city in the USA, would also have the largest number of AI people. Not really news here.