North Carolina has the sixth largest Native American population in the United States


GREENVILLE, North Carolina ( – More than 5 million Native Americans live in the United States as members of 574 federally recognized and 63 state recognized tribes.

That number is expected to reach 10 million by 2060. A federally recognized tribe is a sovereign entity with a government-to-government relationship with the United States, as well as self-government rights in areas such as the tribal law and taxation. .

About half of Native Americans live on reserves, of which about 326 are approximately 56.2 million acres. The 16 million acre Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah is the largest, and the 1.32 acre Pit River Tribe Cemetery in California is the smallest.

Stacker ranked the states with the largest Native American populations and looked at some of the characteristics and conditions of each community, analyzing data from the one-year estimate from the American Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey. The US Census Bureau’s definition of “Native Americans” includes Native Alaskans but excludes Native Hawaiians.

Keep reading to find out the size of the Native American population in your state, or check out the national list here.

North Carolina in numbers

  • Native American population: 126,708
  • Proportion of state population: 1.2% (highest # 12 among all states)

North Carolina has the largest Native American population east of the Mississippi River, but only the eastern band of Cherokee Indians has federal recognition. The Cherokees once controlled about 140,000 square miles in eight states, but were forced to move west in the early 1800s, and those in North Carolina today are descended from tribal members who managed to stay or to to recover. Prior to the 1960s, American Indians in North Carolina were treated with the same type of systemic discrimination and racism that blacks faced, with separate schools, restaurants and public facilities, and employment opportunities. limited.

Compared to other American races, American Indians have a shorter life expectancy of over five years. The suicide rate among young American Indians is 2.5 times higher than among young people in the rest of the country. Native Americans are 2.5 times more likely to experience violent crime than the national average, and more than four in five Native American women will experience violence in their lifetime. Holistically, these issues can be seen as symptoms of several larger issues, including access to social services, educational opportunities, nutritional foods, and health care.

Property rights pose more serious problems, as residents who do not have title to the land on which they live find it difficult to build up credit, which is a major obstacle to social advancement. . Meanwhile, tribal lands are difficult to sell for franchises and other commercial developers who would bring jobs to the reserves, as these companies are often reluctant to negotiate the terms of contracts under tribal law.

An effort to tone down the aforementioned statistics came with the establishment in 1968 of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in Minnesota, which advocated for sovereignty and rights. The group occupied the site of the Battle of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation for more than two months in 1973.

Representative Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, has since been chosen to lead the US Department of the Interior for the administration of President Joe Biden, becoming the country’s first Indigenous cabinet secretary. Its responsibilities will include the underfunded Bureau of Indian Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the latter of which oversees 55 million acres of tribal land.

Read on to see the states with the largest and smallest Native American populations.

States with the largest Native American populations

  • 1. Arizona: 332,273 Native Americans
  • 2. California: 321,112 Native Americans
  • 3. Oklahoma: 316,929 Native American individuals

States with the smallest Native American populations

  • 1. New Hampshire: 1,727 Native Americans
  • 2. Washington, DC: 1,886 Native Americans
  • 3. Vermont: 2,928 Native Americans


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