Over 5 million Native Americans live in the United States as members of 574 federally recognized and 63 tribes recognized by the state. This the number is projected 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 tribal law and taxation.
About half of Native Americans live on reservation, of which there are about 326, comprising about 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 examined some of the characteristics and conditions of each community, analyzing data from the US Census Bureau U.S. Community Survey 2019 estimate over one year. 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.
South Carolina in numbers
– Amerindian population: 18,971
– Proportion of state population: 0.4% (highest # 35 among all states)
More than half a dozen tribes are state-recognized in South Carolina, including Beaver Creek, Edisto Natchez Kusso, Pee Dee, and Waccamaw. The only federally recognized tribe, the Catawba, has a reserve near Rock Hill. In 2020, the federal government approved Catawba’s use of 16 acres across the border in North Carolina, where the tribe plans to build an entertainment and casino complex. The plan is fought by the Cherokee Eastern Band, which operates two casinos in the western part of North Carolina and says investments and jobs would be threatened by competition.
Compared to other American breeds, American Indians have a shorter life expectancy of more than 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 be victims of 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 significant problems, insofar as the inhabitants who do not have a title deed on the land on which they live find it difficult to build up credit, which constitutes 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 mitigate 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. His responsibilities will include the underfunded Bureau of Indian Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which the latter 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 Americans
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