November is recognized by the United States government as American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York and in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
The North American Mission Board notes that some have estimated that 92% of the 6 million (in 2004 the Culture Catalog estimated 95% of ~5 million) Native Peoples living in the United States and Canada are not followers of Jesus Christ. Even after all of these centuries of missions to the Native Peoples only 8% are believers.
Let’s keep these numbers in mind as we look at the numbers below.
While these original peoples are now a minority among the North American population, 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.
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 on November 1, 2011.
- According to the 2010 Census, the nation’s population of American Indians and Alaska Natives is 5.2 million. Of this total, 2.9 million were American Indian and Alaska Native only, and 2.3 million were American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races.
- The projected population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, on July 1, 2050 is 8.6 million.
- There was an increase in the nation’s American Indian and Alaska Native population of 1.1 million between the 2000 Census and 2010 Census. This is an increase of 26.7 percent during this period compared with the overall population growth of 9.7 percent.
- The American Indian and Alaska Native population in California as of the 2010 Census was 723,225 . California was followed by Oklahoma (482,760) and Arizona (353,386).
- According to the 2010 Census there are 15 states with more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native residents. These states were California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Washington, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, and Illinois.
- As of the 2010 Census, 19.5% of the proportion of Alaska’s population identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, the highest rate for this race group of any state. Alaska was followed by Oklahoma (12.9 percent), New Mexico (10.7 percent) and South Dakota (10.1 percent).
- The median age as of April 1, 2010 was 29, for those who are American Indian and Alaska Native, and no other race. This compares with a median age of 37.2 for the population as a whole.
- As of 2010, there were 334 federally recognized reservations.
- 22% of American Indians and Alaska Natives lived in American Indian areas or Alaska Native Village Statistical Areas.
- There are 565 federally-recognized Indian tribes.
- In the 2010 Census, the following tribes had 100,000 or more responses for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone-or-in-any combination population were Cherokee (819,105), Navajo (332,129), Choctaw (195,764), Mexican American Indian (175,494), Chippewa (170,742), Sioux (170,110), Apache (111,810), and Blackfeet (105,304).
- There were 557,185 American Indian and Alaska Native families in 2010. Of these, 57 percent were married-couple families, including those with children.
- The median age at first marriage for American Indian and Alaska Native men and women, respectively (in 2010) was 29.6 and 26.8 years old (for those between 15 and 54 years of age).
- 54% of American Indian and Alaska Native householders owned their own home in 2010. (overall population is 65%).
- 28% of American Indians and Alaska Natives 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home, compared with 21 percent for the nation as a whole.
- 73% of the residents of the Navajo Nation Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land, Arizona-New Mexico-Utah, age 5 and older, speak a language other than English at home.
Again, only 8% after centuries of labors. What can we learn from our history? What will it take to see 9%?