State of the Facts
Americans identifying at least partially as Native American increased 85% from 5.2 million in the 2010 census to 9.7 million in the 2020 census.
The Census Bureau attributed the increase in part to changes in question design and procedures. The agency also made counting Native Americans in 2020 a priority, after an undercount on Native American reservations in 2010.
From 2010 to 2020, the Native American share of the nation’s population increased from 1.6% to 2.9%.
Native Americans account for more than 10% of the population in four states: Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Alaska’s native population has the highest share of all states with 22%. Those states also ranked among the smallest increases in their native populations since 2010. Oklahoma’s native population grew the most: 30%.
The Native American population more than doubled in 20 states between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. Among these states, Arkansas has the largest proportion of people with a native identity at about 4%.
While additional data from the 2020 census is not yet available, data from the 2019 American Community Survey highlights other demographic attributes of the Native American population.
Specific to the American Indian and Alaska Native population, 4.4 million out of the 5.7 million native population identified with at least one tribal grouping. The self-identification in census surveys have no legal bearing in official tribal affiliations. This means someone may identify as a Native American in a Census Bureau survey but not be officially considered a member of a tribe.
The Census Bureau lists hundreds of Native American identities based on tribal groupings as well as specific villages or reservations. Cherokee is the largest individual tribal identity, with one million Americans at least partially identifying with the group. The Navajo Nation is the second-largest grouping at 418,000 followed by Choctaw at 256,000.
The Native American population is younger than the overall US population. While the median age for all Americans is 38.5, the median age for anyone claiming at least partial Native American identity is 32.9.
Those identifying with the Cherokee tribe have the oldest median age of any tribal grouping at 37.1 years old.
Native Americans are also less likely to be 65 or older than Americans overall. Seventeen percent of the country is 65 or older compared to 11% for Native Americans.
Native American adults are likelier to have served in the military than the overall population. While 6.9% of American adults identify as veterans, 7.5% of Native Americans have previously served. Among groups for which data is available, veteran status is highest in six tribal groupings: Blackfeet, Chickasaw, Iroquois, Sioux, Choctaw, and Cherokee. More than 9% of adults in each of those groupings previously served in the military.
Learn more about how Native American tribes and the US government relate to each other. Interested in more demographic data? View these profiles of the Hispanic American and Asian American populations.
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