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Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008

NCES 2008-084
September 2008

1.2. Geographic Distribution of the Population


A greater percentage of American Indians/Alaska Natives live in western states than northeastern, midwestern, and southern states.

In 2006, almost half (49 percent) of all American Indians/Alaska Natives alone1 including those of Hispanic ethnicity, resided in western states. Six percent lived in northeastern states, 29 percent in midwestern states, and 16 percent in southern states.

The percentage of American Indians/Alaska Natives alone, including those of Hispanic ethnicity, was greater than the national average (0.8 percent) in 16 states—most of them western. In terms of numbers of American Indians/Alaska Natives alone, Arizona had the largest American Indian/Alaska Native population with about 278,000. California, Oklahoma, and New Mexico also had large American Indian/Alaska Native populations, estimated at 266,000, 244,000, and 189,000, respectively.

Alaska had 88,000 American Indians/Alaska Natives alone, which constituted the largest percentage of a state population identified: around 13 percent. Although some states, such as Texas and New York, had relatively large American Indian/Alaska Native alone populations (111,500 and 60,400, respectively), these populations constituted less than 1 percent of the total populations of their states.

In 2000, some 47 percent of American Indians/ Alaska Natives, not including those of Hispanic ethnicity, lived in American Indian/Alaska Native areas, including reservations and off-reservation trust lands, Oklahoma tribal statistical areas, tribal designated statistical areas, state designated American Indian statistical areas, Alaska Native village statistical areas, or Alaska Native Regional Corporations. 2 In 2000, some 24 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives lived on federal reservations and off-reservation trust lands, 11 percent lived on Oklahoma tribal statistical areas, 4 percent lived on state designated American Indian statistical areas, and less than 1 percent lived in tribal designated statistical areas and state reservation and off-reservation trust lands. Alaska Native village statistical areas were home to 3 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives, while 5 percent lived on Alaska Native Regional Corporation lands.

It should be noted that most residents of reservation or trust lands, tribal areas, statistical areas, or Alaska Native Regional Corporation lands are not American Indian/Alaska Native. In 2000, people of other racial/ethnic backgrounds represented 84 percent of the population in these areas.

View Table View Table 1.2a View Table View Table 1.2b
View Table View Table 1.2c View Table View Table 1.2d

1 "Alone" refers to respondents who selected American Indian/Alaska Native and not any other race category.
2 According to the Census Bureau, these are the federally recognized legal entities for which census data are gathered. Federal American Indian reservations are areas that have been set aside by the United States for the use of tribes, the exterior boundaries of which are more particularly defined in the final tribal treaties, agreements, executive orders, federal statutes, secretarial orders, or judicial determinations. State reservations are areas established by individual states for tribes recognized by the state. Off-reservation trust lands (both federal and state) are areas for which the United States holds title in trust for the benefit of a tribe or for an individual Indian. The U.S. Census Bureau recognizes and tabulates data for reservations and off-reservation trust lands because American Indian tribes have primary governmental authority over these lands. Oklahoma tribal statistical areas are statistical entities identified and delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau in consultation with federally recognized American Indian tribes in Oklahoma that do not currently have a reservation, but once had a reservation in that state. Tribal designated statistical areas are statistical entities identified and delineated for the U.S. Census Bureau by federally recognized American Indian tribes that do not currently have a federally recognized land base (reservation or off-reservation trust land). State designated American Indian statistical areas are entities for state recognized American Indian tribes that do not have a state recognized land base. Alaska Native village statistical areas are statistical entities that represent the densely settled portion of Alaska Native villages, which include associations, bands, clans, communities, groups, tribes or villages, recognized pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1972. Alaska Native Regional Corporations are corporate entities organized to conduct both business and nonprofit affairs of Alaska Natives pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (U.S. Department of Commerce 2000).

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