Thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau and its effort to count us all once a decade, we have another interesting list to report on. In this particular list we look at not just numbers but the percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives in ratio to the rest of the population.
Which may or may not be a bit of a surprise to some, among the places of 100,000 or more in populace Anchorage, Alaska has the highest percentile of American Indians and Alaska Natives at 12 percent of the greater population.
The rest are written below:
1. Anchorage, Alaska – 12.4 percent; Total Population 291,826 = 36,062 AI/AN
According to the 2010 census Anchorage, Alaska rises to the top of the nation with nearly one in 13 residents claiming to be a part of Alaska’s Native population. Specifically, Anchorage is home to the largest Yupik and Inupiat communities.
Historically, the Yupik have resided along the Bering Sea coast from the Alaska Peninsula to Norton Sound and the Inupiat occupy the coast north of Unalakleet and along the Arctic Ocean.
In the 2000 census, there was no such distinction made between specific nations. In the entire state of Alaska, there are several hundred communities and villages to include the Yupik, Inupiat, Alaskan Athabascan, Tlingit-Haida, Aleut and Tsimshian among others.
2. Tulsa, Oklahoma – 9.2 percent; Total Population 391,906 = 35,990 AI/AN
3. Norman, Oklahoma – 8.1 percent; Total Population 110,925 = 8,985* AI/AN
4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – 6.3 percent; Total Population 579,999 = 36,572 AI/AN
American Indians are a huge part of Tulsa, Oklahoma history regardless of where you may research online or otherwise. The proverbial stopping point of the Cherokee Trail of Tears in 1936, Tulsa became home to the “Five Civilized Tribes,” Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Seminoles.
Today Tulsa sees predominantly the Cherokee, Osage and Creek as the main American Indian populous, but Oklahoma still remains to be one of the highest populated American Indian states with 482,760 people in 2010.
Considering, the early decades of the nineteenth century was the period of "Indian Removal." In which the U.S. government incited the forced removal of eastern tribes such as the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw and others – it is no wonder Oklahoma holds the No. 2, 3 and 4 spots.
Other removed tribes would also join the Oklahoma territories including the Delaware, Sac and Fox, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Peoria, Ottawa, Wyandotte, Seneca, and Iowa, Kaw, Ponca, Otoe, Missouri, Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Nez Perce and Modoc. Overall, the U.S. government removed a total of 67 different tribes to the area. These tribes still maintain their identity and culture in spite of their forced removal to new lands.
5. Billings, Montana – 6.0 percent; Total Population 104,170 = 6,250* AI/AN
Since Billings is located just 90 miles north of the Crow Indian Reservation which encompasses 4,989 square miles and holds 3.8 million acres in Big Horn Country it is little surprise Billings holds the number five spot. Add to the fact more than 3,000 enrolled tribal members live off the reservation and it makes even more sense.
In addition, Montana is home to more than 78,600 people of Native heritage and holds seven reservations belonging to the Blackfeet, Crow Agency, Flathead, Salish and Kootenai (and Pend d’ Oreille) Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, Chippewa and Cree.
5. Albuquerque, New Mexico – 6.0 percent; Total Population 545,852 = 32,571 AI/AN
Since the state of New Mexico is home to 22 American Indian tribes to include the three reservations of the Navajo Nation, Jicarilla Apache, Mescalero Apache and 19 Pueblo Communities, Albuquerque is unsurprisingly tied for the fifth spot for percentage of American Indians.
Specifically, the Pueblo of Sandia is the federally recognized tribe with a 22,877-acre reservation who are members of the pre-Columbian Tiwa language group who once dominated the Albuquerque area. Their lineage can be traced back to the Aztecs.
7. Green Bay, Wisconsin – 5.4 percent; Total Population 104,057 = 5,619* AI/AN
The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin can be thanked for landing Green Bay in the top 10. Green Bay happens to be located within the federally recognized tribe’s territory giving the city its population count.
8. Tacoma, Washington – 4.0 percent; Total Population 198,397 = 7,936* AI/AN
When looking at a map of the United States, Tacoma, Washington rests at the Northwest tip closest to Alaska. The massive water body and bay is home to several tribes that include the Makah, Quileute, Hoh, Quinault, Shoalwater Bay, Lower Elwha, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, Chehalis, Nooksack, Upper Skagit, Lummi, Samish, Swinomish, Stillaguamish, Sauk-Suiattle, Tulalip, Port Madison, Snoqualmie, Muckleshoot, Nisqually and Puyallup tribes.
Other tribes in Washington include the Yakama, Colville, Kalispel and Spokane.
9. Tempe, Arizona – 3.9 percent; Total Population 161,719 = 6,307* AI/AN
10. Tucson, Arizona – 3.8 percent; Total Population 520,116 = 19,903 AI/AN
Arizona, like New Mexico is home to 22 tribes and also deserves to be in the top 10 thanks to the cities of Tempe and Tucson. While Tempe and Tucson are closest to the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Pueblo Yaqui Nations, Arizona is home to several more tribes to include the Gila River, Ak-Chin, San Carlos Apache, Salt River Pima-Maricopa, the Navajo and Hopi Nations and several others.
Of most influence to these areas are the Tohono O’odham or “People of the Desert,” whose ancestors the Hohokam, settled along the Santa Cruz River in Southern Arizona. Today, their reservation is the second largest in the state with approximately 28,000 members and has a land base of 2.8 million acres and 4,460 square miles. The reservation is approximately the size of the State of Connecticut.
* Population numbers calculated from census percentages