The United States recognizes November of each year as “American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.” And in light of this recognition, I thought it would be appropriate to remind you of these peoples while challenging you to consider serving them through your ministries.
The North American Mission Board estimates that only 5% of the 5 million Native Peoples living in the United States and Canada are followers of Jesus (2004, Culture Catalog). While these original peoples are now a minority among the United States and Canadian populations, they are peoples loved by God and in need of His hope. They are growing in number, generally young, and mainly residing in urban areas.
There has been some recent interest in the missiological community related to Native Peoples. The September-October 2010 edition of Mission Frontiers was dedicated to understanding and ministering to Native Americans. And over the years at NorthAmericanMissions.org, I have provided a growing category of links to assist in better understanding the Native Peoples of North America. Also, I just posted this podcast HERE for you to download.
Each year the U. S. Census Bureau produces a report titled, “Facts for Features,” containing statistics on the American Indian and Alaska Native population. The information below came from their report received yesterday.
- As of July 1, 2009, the estimated population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race was 5 million.
- The projected population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, on July 1, 2050 will be 8.6 million.
- The country increased by 83,670 among the American Indian and Alaska Native population from July 1, 2008, to July 1, 2009. This population increase was 1.7%, with the overall population increasing by 1%.
- The median age of the American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2009 was 29.7. This was younger than the median of 36.8 for the U. S. population. About 30 % of American Indians and Alaska Natives were younger than 18, and 8 percent were 65 and older.
- The American Indian and Alaska Native population in California as of July 1, 2009 was 739,964, the highest total of any state.
- California was followed by Oklahoma (415,371) and Arizona (366,954).
- About 13,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives were added to Texas’ population between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009. That is the largest numeric increase of any state. Texas (4.2 percent) also had the highest rate of increase during the period.
- There were 5 states where American Indians and Alaska Natives were the largest race or ethnic minority group in 2009 (Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota).
- There were 13 states with more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native residents on July 1, 2009. (California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Washington, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Alaska, Oregon and Colorado).
- Los Angeles County led the nation’s counties with the largest number of American Indians and Alaska Natives with 151,843, as of July 1, 2009.
- Harris County, Texas, added about 2,100 American Indians and Alaska Natives between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009, leading the nation’s counties in largest increase.
- There were 10 counties or equivalents with total populations of 10,000 or more, the number that were majority American Indian and Alaska Native, as of July 1, 2009. Shannon, S.D., led the way, with 86%.
- The average number of people in an American Indian and Alaska Native family in 2009 was 3.51. This was larger than the national average size for all families, regardless of race (3.23 people).
- 55% of American Indian and Alaska Native householders owned their own home in 2009. This is compared with 66 percent of the overall population.
- 21% of American Indians and Alaska Natives 5 year and older spoke a language other than English at home. This is compared with 20% for the nation as a whole.
- 80% of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 years and older had at least a high school diploma. Also, 16% obtained a bachelor’s degree. This is compared with 85% of the overall population with a high school diploma and 28% with a bachelor’s degree.
- $37,348 was the median income of American Indian and Alaska Native households.
- 23.6% of American Indians and Alaska Natives were in poverty in 2009.
According to the 2006 census, the Canadian government reports the following information on the Aboriginal Peoples living in Canada (source: Statistics Canada):
- In 2006, the number of people who identified themselves as an Aboriginal person (North American Indian /First Nations people, Métis and Inuit), exceeded the one-million mark, reaching 1,172,790.
- Between 1996 and 2006, the Aboriginal population grew by 45%, nearly six times faster than the 8% rate of increase for the non-Aboriginal population.
- In 2006, Aboriginal people (First Nations, Métis and Inuit), accounted for almost 4% of the total population of Canada.
- Eight in 10 Aboriginal people live in Ontario and the western provinces.
- In the past decade, the Aboriginal population grew 95% in Nova Scotia, 67% in New Brunswick, 65% in Newfoundland and Labrador, 53% in Quebec and 68% in Ontario.
- In 2006, 54% lived in urban areas.
- In 2006, Winnipeg was home to the largest urban Aboriginal population (68,380). Edmonton, with 52,100, had the second largest number of Aboriginal people. Vancouver ranked third, with 40,310. Toronto (26,575), Calgary (26,575), Saskatoon (21,535) and Regina (17,105), were also home to relatively large numbers of urban Aboriginal people.
- 48% of the Aboriginal population consists of children and youth aged 24 and under, compared with 31% of the non-Aboriginal population.
- Aboriginal people were almost four times as likely as non-Aboriginal people to live in a crowded dwelling. They were three times as likely to live in a home in need of major repairs.
For more details on the Canadian realities, see HERE.