February 14, 2002

Population of Indians on the rise, Utah’s percentage exceeds U.S. average


Utah is among 19 states in which the American Indian population exceeds the U.S. proportion of 1.5 percent, and among four Southwestern states in which American Indians make up the majority of the population in certain counties, according to U.S. Census figures released today. 

The figures from the 2000 Census also show that the number of Indians is increasing at a faster rate than the overall U.S. population, and the majority of Indians live in the West.


In Utah, Indians made up 1.4 percent of the state’s population in 1990 and 1.8 percent a decade later — growing from 24,283 to 40,445. 

In the Southwest, American Indians were represented in high percentages and also in large numbers in counties located in the Four Corners area where the boundaries of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet. 

The figures are encouraging, said Forrest Cuch, state director of the Division of Indian Affairs, but many Indians in Utah have not recovered from the genocide, loss of land and starvation brought by the arrival of white settlers in the 1840s. 

“It’s propaganda that the Mormon pioneers and white settlers in Utah treated American Indians better than people did in other areas,” he said. “Many tribes have not yet recovered, and today we are still at the bottom of the socio-economic scale in Utah.” 

Navajos, whose reservation occupies part of San Juan County in southeastern Utah, were the second largest tribe in the United States, with 298,197 people. First were the Cherokee, with 729,533 reporting they had all or some Cherokee ancestry. The Census put Paiutes at 13,532, while Utes were 10,385. 

Nationally, the increase in the Indian population was from 26 percent for those identifying them- selves solely as American Indian or Alaska Native to 110 percent for those who reported American Indian lineage in combination with at least one other race. By comparison, the total U.S. population grew by 13 percent — from 248.7 million in 1990 to 281.4 million in 2000. 

Places with the largest Indian populations were New York City (87,241) and Los Angeles, (53,092). 

Cities with populations over 100,000, with the highest percentage of Indians or Alaska Natives were Anchorage, Ala. (10.4 percent); Tulsa, Okla. (7.7 percent); Oklahoma City (5.7 percent); Albuquerque, N.M. (4.9 percent); Green Bay, Wis. (4.1 percent); Tacoma, Wash. (3.6 percent); Minneapolis, Minn. (3.3 percent); Tucson, Ariz. (3.2 percent); Spokane, Wash. (3 percent), and Sacramento, Calif. (2.8 percent). 

Of the total U.S. population, 2.5 million people or .9 percent identified themselves as only Indian or Alaska Native. 

An additional 1.6 million people reported Indian or Alaska Native and at least one other race. Within this latter group, the most common combinations were Indian and white (66 percent) followed by Indian and black (11 percent), Indian, white and black (6.8 percent), or Indian and some other race (5.7 percent). 

In all, 4.1 million people reported themselves as solely Indian, Alaska Native, or a combination of Indian, Alaska Native and at least one other race. 

The Census also showed that 43 percent of all Indians live in the West, while 31 percent are in the South, 17 percent in the Midwest and 9 percent in the Northeast. 

The West also had the the highest proportion of Indians in its total population, at 2.8 percent. 

In the South, 1.3 percent of the total population reported themselves as Indian, compared with 1.1 percent in the Midwest and .7 in the Northeast. 

The 10 states with the largest Indian populations were in order, California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Washington, North Carolina, Michigan and Alaska.


The Salt Lake Tribune

Native American Statistics
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