Changing the Narrative
What we know about Indigenous peoples is primarily drawn from our education or from the media, where Native voices are often absent. Here are some starting facts to understand Native communities.
Native peoples are a richly diverse group of people.
They represent more than 600 tribal nations and 175 languages across the United States. Tribal groups share similar experiences, but they have unique cultures with unique histories.
Being Native is not just a race or an ethnicity.
There are 574 federally recognized tribes with political status as sovereign governments and having nation-to-nation relationships with the U.S. Members of federally recognized tribes are dual citizens, both of their tribal nation and of the U.S. In addition, there are more than 60 tribes recognized by states.
The American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) population is on the rise.
The American Indian and Alaska Native population, alone and in combination with another race, increased from 5.2 million in 2010 to 9.7 million in 2020, a 86.5 percent increase. This brings the AI/AN population to represent 2.9 percent of the U.S. population. Of the 9.7 million, 3.7 million people self identified as AI/AN alone (1.1 percent of the U.S. population).
U.S. Census 2020
The Native Hawaiian population is also increasing.
In Hawai'i, there are 298,000 Native Hawaiians representing 21% of the population. Nationally, there are more than 560,000 Native Hawaiians. By 2060, the Native Hawaiian population in Hawai'i is projected to reach 675,000, matching the estimated population in 1778 when Captain James Cook arrived on the islands.
Most federally recognized tribal governments do not operate casinos.
And only those located near large population centers are highly profitable. More than three-fourths of all tribal governments operating casinos use the revenue to fund services for tribal members or fund basic government.
There are more Native Americans in elected positions in the U.S. government than ever before.
In 2018, two Native American women were elected to the House of Representatives (from New Mexico and Kansas). Then, in 2020, six Indigenous people were elected to the House of Representatives, tripling the number of Native Americans in Congress. This year, 114 Native candidates ran for office; at least 65 won.