Facts about Native Americans

Not only have those who identify on the census as Indian risen from about 200,000 in 1900 to over 2 million by 2010; another 3 million identify as Native and something else.  Of this ever-increasing population, in 2010 more than 70 percent lived in urban areas, continuing the trend begun in the years after World War II.  Indians are young, too: 32 percent are under age eighteen, compared with 24 percent of the overall population.  On reservations, the median age is twenty-six, compared with thirty-seven for the nation at large…Between 1990 and 2000, the income of Americans Indians grew by 33 percent, and the poverty rate dropped by 7 percent.  There was no marked difference in income between Indians from casino-rich tribes and those from poorer tribes without casinos.  Between 1990 and 1997 the number of Indian-owned businesses grew by 84 percent.  And the number of Native kids enrolled in college has doubled in the last thirty years.

That is from David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present.


Seems Native Americans are like the rest of us, but a bit younger. Reminds me of a passage I read that the Indians that Pres. Andrew Jackson (a proto-Donald Trump) illegally expelled from the US South were to a degree just like the colonials who surrounded them: many had the same dress, speech and social customs, they just happened to be Native American. If true, it means essentially the Native American movement was to a degree a sort of false "other" narrative by US colonials to seize lands from their less politically connected rivals...

Bonus trivia: I've seen the casino stat reframed this way, that most casino revenue sharing Indians are not the same ones that live on the rez, but a minority, and this causes friction between the haves and have-nots.

What with the forcible rounding up of masses of people and sending them off to remote reservations, Jackson was more of a proto-FDR.

I agree. End reservations. Make their land private and give them legal title to their land and allow them to live like normal people.

Given the fact that Native American culture is traditionally unfamiliar with a market economy, there was fear that they would soon lose their land to non-natives if given a private title (at least future generations would), that's why they were given reservations, it was to protect them from colonists.

"lose" their land if...you mean "sell" their land if given a title?

That’s exactly how the Miller brother (101 Ranch) thieves stole the Ponca allotment land. If the white man wants our land they take it, afterall, all the land is held in trust by the govt anyway, in the govts view, us Indians are too dumb to handle our own affairs!

Since they are unable to sell the land, they cannot use it as collatoral to get bank loans. This is a problem is they want to develop it.

Set up a corporation to hold the common land, give each member share of that corporation. Give each tribal member a deeded property that they can do with as they please. Freedom! It's time to end this sham.

100% agree. Although deciding who is a member of the tribe for purposes of ownership stakes could be a problem these days. But I guess turning the corporation over to tribal councils is as good as anything.

Perhaps people is less reluctant to self identify as native American these days. That might explain business growth. People that opened a new business before tried very hard to be "normal".

It is more than that. 'Until 1924, Native Americans were not citizens of the United States. Many Native Americans had, and still have, separate nations within the U.S. on designated reservation land. But on June 2, 1924, Congress granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. Yet even after the Indian Citizenship Act, some Native Americans weren't allowed to vote because the right to vote was governed by state law. Until 1957, some states barred Native Americans from voting.

At the time of the Indian Citizenship Act, an act called the Dawes Severalty Act shaped U.S. Indian policy. Since 1887, the government had encouraged Native Americans to become more like mainstream America. Hoping to turn Indians into farmers, the federal government gave out tribal lands to individuals in 160-acre parcels. Unclaimed or "surplus" land was sold, and the money was used to establish Indian schools. In them, Native American children learned reading, writing, and social habits of mainstream America. By 1932, the sale of unclaimed land and allotted land resulted in the loss of two-thirds of the 138 million acres Native Americans had held prior to the Act.' http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/jazz/jb_jazz_citizens_1.html

Things have improved a bit since then, of course. For example, some of the 'surplus' land was returned. Americans just don't call that sort of thing reparations, of course - nor do we generally apologize for taking and selling such 'surplus' land in the first place, either.

(And for the Buffy fans, one has to admire Spike's honesty in this regard - 'You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying, "I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it." The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story.' Of course, the character is a vampire and soulless.)

And today, a tribe can only be recognized by the federal government if it managed to hang on to some of their ancestral land. One of the California tribes that was "terminated" under false pretenses only sixty years ago has legal standing now because one member managed to hold on to a single acre of the old land.

Business growth is likely to relate to the availability of disadvantaged-business funding, just as self-identification presumably ties in with affirmative action in hiring and college admissions.

How did the cowboys come out?

Brokeback Mountain

Where have all the cowboys gone?

It would be useful to distinguish the real Indians from the Elizabeth Warren Indians.

My impression is gloomier: In the 21st Century, American Indians seem to be suffering from many of the same unfortunate trends as Scots-Irish whites, with whom they tend to share history and often some genes.

"My impression is gloomier: In the 21st Century, American Indians seem to be suffering from many of the same unfortunate trends as Scots-Irish whites" can you please elaborate

Substance abuse, violent crime, sexual assault, etc.

Remember, it's not racism if you're ripping white people.

Basically, the White Death (suicides, overdoses, alcohol-related deaths) is hitting both Flyover whites (often Scots-Irish) and American Indians in the 21st Century.

American Indians suffered from a lot of these problems before, although they seem to be getting worse on reservations lately. So perhaps it's more accurate to say that whites seem in the 21st Century seem to be suffering the same problems traditionally suffered in America by defeated peoples.

We have a similar story in Australia.

From the bureau of statistics:
"The final estimated resident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia as at 30 June 2016 was 798,400 people, or 3.3% of the total Australian population. This population estimate represents a 19% increase in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates from the estimate of 669,900 for 30 June 2011."

Interestingly, Tasmania is the state with the highest proportion of people identifying as Aboriginal, about 5.5%. Most readers will know that the original Tasmanian Aborigines were almost wiped out by early settlers.

There are, of course, various suggested explanations for these phenomena.

We don't know where one of my grandfathers came from. (I had three.) This is because he was passing for white. His official existence starts with him serving in the merchant navy and then the army. There is nothing my family members have been able to find before that. When he was alive no one raised the topic as it wouldn't have been acceptable to suggest grandma had married someone who wasn't "white", even if he was only partially not "white".

I presume less people feel the need to hide their backgrounds in such a way these days.

Of this ever-increasing population, in 2010 more than 70 percent lived in urban areas,

What's the significance of that? The US census says that 80% of all Americans live in urban areas. The real significance of the presented figures is the fact that census numbers in 1900 show just how effective the US effort to clear the landscape of natives was. The entire native population of the country was slightly smaller than that of the city of Minneapolis. Since the land that once supported many more natives than remained had been taken over by the descendants of Europeans it's obvious that many natives would gravitate to cities, just as numbers of landless immigrants did and still do.

The extirpation of the natives was meant to clear the land. Once that had been accomplished there was no longer a reason to continue military efforts against them. The invasion was complete.

What is a native American? Identitarians on the right or left will tell you it's not DNA. It's a specific cultural association maintained, against stiff odds, over the centuries.

It's what allows a pueblo dwelling "Indian" in new Mexico to be a native American, while a similar pueblo dweller a hundred miles south is just a "Mexican."

You know, God help them if they're from some other Mexican country.

The Tohono Oʼodham retain their tribal identity despite the fact that they live on both sides of the US-Mexico border and are citizens of one country or the other.

Tribal members born in Mexico or who have insufficient documentation to prove U.S. birth or residency, found themselves trapped in a remote corner of Mexico, with no access to the tribal centers only tens of miles away. In 2001, a bill was proposed that would give citizenship to all Tohono Oʼodham, but the bill was forgotten in the aftermath of 9/11.[19] Since then, bills have repeatedly been introduced in Congress to solve the "one people-two country" problem by granting U.S. citizenship to all enrolled members of the Tohono Oʼodham, but so far their sponsors have not gained passage.[35][36] Opponents of granting U.S. citizenship to all enrolled members of the Nation include concerns that many births on the reservation have been informally recorded, and the records are susceptible to easy alteration or falsification. Oʼodham can cross the border with Tribal Identification Cards, but these can be denied at the border and legal documentation on the reservation is poor. Separation from family members and detainment are possibilities for Oʼodham crossing into the United States.

The Inupiat residents of Russian Big Diomede Island and US possession Little Diomede may no longer consider themselves members of the same group since the Big Diomedes have been moved to the Russian mainland for security reasons by the Soviets.


Thanks for that well documented example.

That's why I can't figure out libertarian hostility to ethnic nationalism. Unlike citizenship, the government can't take your ancestry from you. The Jews and Amish are successful examples of people who carry their nation with them wherever they go. Roma, not so much.

"Between 1990 and 2000, the income of Americans Indians grew by 33 percent, and the poverty rate dropped by 7 percent. ... Between 1990 and 1997 the number of Indian-owned businesses grew by 84 percent. And the number of Native kids enrolled in college has doubled in the last thirty years."
Is there a learning experience for other historically disadvantaged groups?

Forget growth from 1900. The population increased by a third from 2000 to 2010 alone. https://navajotimes.com/news/2012/0112/012612census.php

Also interesting is that for the first time in the 2010 census the Navajo full-blooded population surpassed that of the Cherokees - 286,000 versus 284,000.

The circumstances of Alaskan natives, even though they are only about 100,00 in number, are so different from other groups, given the native corporations there, it would seem that lumping them together with the others rather than addressing them separately obscures more than it helps.

It would also help clarify if the census were to refine its mixed blood questions so as to identify 50% or more native blood versus others.

The US education systems primary mission appears to be to produce a uniform public attitude that being white is bad so it would seem a certain percentage of census responders may be falsely claiming native blood either out a perceived need for protective status or to exploit non-white advantages.

It looks a little strange to see that the words "Indian" and "native American" are still being used this way. I immediately thought of persons in that country near Pakistan. As for native, the 2 million estimate seems far off. Aren't there at least 285 million native Americans.

In Canada and Australia the relevant government ministry is now called "indigenous". Of course the preferences matter so perhaps they want to be called natives.

This reminds me of an excellent recent novel about urban Native Americans in Oakland, “There There” by Tommy Orange. I was surprised to learn how many Indian folks live there and in urban areas in general.

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