November 2, 2007
Written by C.N.
Did you know that November is American Indian & Alaskan Native Heritage Month? Asian Americans share much in common with our Native American Indian and Alaskan brothers and sisters, not just in terms of social and cultural solidarity, but because we share common Asian ancestors as well. To celebrate their heritage, the U.S. Census Bureau has a brief summary of the heritage month and a fact sheet with some interesting statistics:
The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
As of July 1, 2006, the estimated population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race. They made up 1.5 percent of the total population.
The American Indian and Alaska Native population in California as of July 1, 2006, the highest total of any state in the nation. California was followed by Oklahoma (397,000) and Arizona (331,200).
Number of states where American Indians and Alaska Natives were the largest race or ethnic minority group in 2006. These states are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming.
The nation’s Cherokee alone population. Cherokee is one of the nation’s largest tribal groups, along with Navajo (alone), which has a population of 296,100.
Receipts for American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned businesses in 2002. These businesses numbered 201,387.
The median income of households where the householder reported being American Indian and Alaska Native and no other race.
The poverty rate of people who reported they were American Indian and Alaska Native and no other race. There is a wide variation in the demographic characteristics of American Indians and Alaska Natives. For instance, members of the Chippewa (alone) tribal group had a median household income of $36,481, while for Navajos (alone), median household income totaled $27,815.
For more information and links to Native American Indians, visit the Library of Congress’s comprehensive site.
If you want to compare the general socioeconomic characteristics, such as those listed above, with those from the other major racial groups, you can visit my article on Socioeconomic Statistics and Demographics. Unfortunately, the numbers indicate that in many ways, Native American Indians are the worst-off of all the major racial groups.
As most historians and sociologists will tell you, while there are still many individual cases of destructive behavior among some Native American Indians, much of that can be traced directly back the systematic exclusion and institutional inequality that they have experienced ever since Christopher Columbus first set foot in North America.
Because of their relatively small size, it’s common for the overwhelming majority of Americans of all races and backgrounds to overlook their experiences and issues these days. However, I hope we as Asian Americans recognize that while we may have historical and socioeconomic differences with Native American Indians, as numerically small minority groups, it is in our best interests to stick up for each other so that our collective voices can be louder.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "November is Native American Indian Month" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/11/november-is-native-american-indian-month/> ().
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