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Native American population on the rise in U.S.

More than 4.4 million people in the United States claim Native American heritage, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on Thursday.

The figure represents a 7.3 percent increase from just four years ago. In 2000, the Census Bureau reported that 4.1 million people claimed American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry.

Both numbers represent double-digit growth in the Native population from 1990, when the last national count was conducted. This was due to better reporting and an increase in population, but also to a change in the Census that allowed people to claim more than one racial or ethnic heritage.

When the data is limited to single race, the number of American Indians and Alaska Native drops to about 2.8 million, or less than 1 percent of the entire U.S. population.

The numbers reported yesterday, however, are based on single- and multiple-race responses. This put the Native proportion at 1.5 percent of the total U.S. population.

As of July 2004, California had the largest American Indian and Alaska Native population. According to the Census, 687,400 Native Americans live in the Golden State. There are over 100 federally recognized tribes in California.

Oklahoma came in a distant second, with 398,200 Native Americans. The state is home to almost 40 federally recognized tribes.

Arizona (234,200), Texas (248,300) and New Mexico (207,400) rounded out the top five. New York (183,400), Washington (165,400), North Carolina (142,000), Florida (140,600) and Michigan (124,100) completed the top 10.

Alaska was not far behind, though, with a Native population of 123,700. Of all the states, Alaska had the highest proportion, 18.9 percent,

Going by proportion, Oklahoma ranked second, with 11.3 percent claiming Native heritage. New Mexico was a close third with 10.9 percent.

Rounding out the top five were South Dakota (9.4 percent) and Montana (7.5 percent). North Dakota (5.8 percent), Arizona (5.6 percent), Wyoming (3.1 percent), Washington (4.8 percent) and Oregon (2.5 percent) made the top 10.

The District of Columbia was the loneliest place for Native Americans, according to the Census. Only 4,700 lived in the nation's capital as of July 2004, the lowest in the U.S. Vermont (6,200), Delaware (6,600) and New Hampshire (8,200) were also ranked at the bottom of the list.

The Census Bureau also broke down the results by counties with populations of at least 1 million. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles County had the largest Native American population, with 153,500 living there.

Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes the city of Phoenix and several tribes, ranked second with a Native population of 91,500. The county also registered the largest numerical increase between 2003 and 2004, according to the Census.

Other counties with a large Native population include San Diego County (49,400), San Bernardino County (43,900), Orange County (41,500) and Riverside County (39,800). All these counties are located in California and are home to a number of tribes.

Top 10 States, Native American Population, Combined Race:
StateJuly 2004 July 2003 Increase
California (HTML | Excel) 687,366 684,459 0.4%
Oklahoma (HTML | Excel) 398,242 397,169 0.3%
Arizona (HTML | Excel) 322,235 315,861 2.0%
Texas (HTML | Excel) 248,339 243,813 1.9%
New Mexico (HTML | Excel) 207,374 204,716 1.3%
New York (HTML | Excel) 183,442 183,371 0.04%
Washington (HTML | Excel) 165,373 164,011 0.8%
North Carolina (HTML | Excel) 141,953 139,572 1.7%
Florida (HTML | Excel) 140,558 135,295 3.9%
Michigan (HTML | Excel) 124,092 124,368 -0.2%
Source: July 1, 2004, State and County Characteristics Population Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau.

Census Data (Excel Spreadsheets):
Annual Estimates of the Population for U.S. (Combined Race) | Annual Estimates of the Population for U.S. (Single Race) | Annual Estimates of the Population for Counties with 1 million or more population

Detailed Data:
July 1, 2004, State and County Characteristics

Press Release:
Texas Becomes Nation�s Newest �Majority-Minority� State, Census Bureau Announces (August 11, 2005)

Relevant Links:
U.S. Census Bureau -