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American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month: November 2017

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The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, rode horseback from state to state to get endorsements from 24 state governments to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations have been issued every year since 1994, and we now refer to this celebration as “American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.” This Facts for Features presents statistics for American Indians and Alaska Natives, as this is one of the six major race categories defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

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The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys. We appreciate the public’s cooperation as we continuously measure America’s people, places and economy.  

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Related Products

NEW! “My Tribal Area” App: My Tribal Area gives you quick and easy access to selected statistics from the American Community Survey. The American Community Survey provides detailed demographic, social, economic and housing statistics every year for the nation's communities.

2011-2015 American Community Survey American Indian and Alaska Native tables: The U.S. Census Bureau released detailed estimates of social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics for over 1,000 tribal groups. These tables from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey contain the most detail for these populations and are available at numerous geographic levels including Alaska Native Regional Corporations, American Indian and Alaska Native Areas.

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Population

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6.7 million

The nation’s American Indian and Alaska Native population, including those of more than one race. They made up about 2.0 percent of the total population in 2016.

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10.2 million

The projected American Indian and Alaska Native population, alone or in combination, on July 1, 2060. They would constitute 2.4 percent of the total population.

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592,753

The American Indian and Alaska Native population, alone or in combination, age 65 and over, on July 1, 2016.

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21

The number of states with 100,000 or more American Indian and Alaska Native residents, alone or in combination, in 2016. These states were Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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19.9%

The percentage of Alaska’s population identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, alone or in combination, in 2016, the highest share for this race group of any state. Alaska was followed by Oklahoma (13.7 percent), New Mexico (11.9 percent), South Dakota (10.4 percent) and Montana (8.4 percent).

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31.0

The median age for those who were American Indian and Alaska Native, alone or in combination, in 2016. This compares with a median age of 37.9 for the U.S. population as a whole.

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Reservations

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326

The number of distinct federally recognized American Indian reservations in 2016, including federal reservations and off-reservation trust land. Excluding Hawaiian Home Lands, the Census Bureau provides statistics for 546 American Indian and Alaska Native legal and statistical areas.

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Tribes

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567

The number of federally recognized Indian tribes in 2016.

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Families

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841,943

The number of American Indian and Alaska Native households in 2016 (households with a householder who was American Indian and Alaska Native alone). Of these, 37.9 percent were married-couple families, including those with children.

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7.2%

The percentage of the American Indian and Alaska Native population alone, age 30 and over, who were grandparents living with at least one grandchild under the age of 18 in 2016.

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Housing

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52.9%

The percentage of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native householders who owned their own home in 2016. This is compared with 63.1 percent of the overall population.

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Languages

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27.0%

The percentage of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native people age 5 and older who spoke a language other than English at home in 2016, compared with 21.6 percent for the nation as a whole.

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Education

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79.9%

The percentage of the single-race American Indian and Alaska Native population, age 25 and older that had at least a high school diploma, GED certificate or alternative credential in 2016. In addition, 14.5 percent obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. In comparison, 87.5 percent of the overall population age 25 and older had a high school diploma or higher, and 31.3 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

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41.2%

The percentage of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native people age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher whose degree was in science and engineering, or science and engineering-related fields in 2016. This compares with 44.3 percent for all people age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in science and engineering, or science and engineering-related fields in 2016.

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Businesses

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27,585

The estimated number of American Indian and Alaska Native-owned employer firms in 2015.

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Jobs

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27.2%

The percentage of civilian-employed, single-race American Indian and Alaska Native people, age 16 and older who worked in management, business, science and arts occupations in 2016. In addition, 24.9 percent worked in service occupations and 22.0 percent in sales and office occupations.

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Veterans

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136,487

The number of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native veterans of the U.S. armed forces in 2016.

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Income and Poverty

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$39,719

The median household income of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native households in 2016. This compares with $57,617 for the nation as a whole.

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26.2%

The percentage of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native people who were in poverty in 2016, the highest rate of any race group. For the nation as a whole, the poverty rate was 14.0 percent.

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Health Insurance

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19.2%

The percentage of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native people who lacked health insurance coverage in 2016. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding percentage was 8.6 percent.

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The following is a list of observances typically covered by the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features series:

African-American History Month (February)
Super Bowl
Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)
Women's History Month (March)
Irish-American Heritage Month (March)/
      St. Patrick's Day (March 17)
Earth Day (April 22)
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
Older Americans Month (May)
Mother's Day
Hurricane Season Begins (June 1)
Father's Day
The Fourth of July (July 4)
Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July 26)
Back to School (August)
Labor Day
Grandparents Day
Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
Unmarried and Single Americans Week
Halloween (Oct. 31)
American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)
Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
Thanksgiving Day
The Holiday Season (December)

Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; or e-mail: pio@census.gov.

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