Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

1. Alabama
> Location quotient of ancestry:
2.6
> Most unique ancestry: Indian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Indian: 0.8%
> Share of U.S. Indian population living in state: 3.6%

Of the roughly 846,000 U.S. citizens who claim Indian ancestry, nearly 31,000 live in Alabama. While Alabama is home to larger populations of several other ancestries, including American Indian, Scotch Irish, and English, the share of citizens claiming Indian heritage is higher than it is across the rest of the country. Apart from Alabama, the other states with relatively high concentrations of people with Indian ancestry are contiguous. West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma all have high relatively high concentrations of Indian residents.

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2. Alaska
> Location quotient of ancestry:
351.3
> Most unique ancestry: Eskimo
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Eskimo: 7.8%
> Share of U.S. Eskimo population living in state: 84.0%

Of the 60,830 Americans who claim Eskimo heritage, 84% live in Alaska. Some 51,107 Alaskans claim Eskimo ancestry, or 7.8% of the state’s total population. The name “Eskimo” is believed to mean “to net snowshoes.” While people of similar heritage outside of the United States prefer the Inuit designation, Eskimo is still commonly used in Alaska.

3. Arizona
> Location quotient of ancestry:
6.4
> Most unique ancestry: Assyrian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Assyrian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Assyrian population living in state: 13.5%

Although just 0.1% of Arizona residents identify as Assyrian, it is the most unique heritage in the state. America is home to just 38,626 Assyrians, and 13.5% of them live in Arizona. There were two large waves of Assyrian immigration to the United States from Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. The first occurred as World War I began and the second during the Middle East turmoil in the 1970s. Assyrian refugees relocated mostly to Chicago, Detroit, and Northern California, where some Assyrian American settlers had established communities before WWI. More recently, Assyrian American families — mostly those already living in the United States — have migrated to Arizona. Arizona is also home to relatively high concentrations of residents with Eritrean, Basque, and American Indian ancestry.

4. Arkansas
> Location quotient of ancestry:
5.1
> Most unique ancestry: Indian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Indian: 1.6%
> Share of U.S. Indian population living in state: 4.3%

Roughly one-third of 1% of the American population identifies as Indian. In Arkansas, 1.6% of state residents claim Indian heritage, or about 4.3% of the roughly 846,000 Americans who identify as Indian. Arkansas is part of a chain of contiguous states that also have relatively high concentrations of residents identifying as Indian. Arkansas is also home to relatively highly concentrated populations of residents with Laotian ancestry and of American Indians.

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5. California
> Location quotient of ancestry:
6.2
> Most unique ancestry: Fijian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Fijian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Fijian population living in state: 79.2%

Nearly 80% of the roughly 22,900 Americans who claim Fijian heritage live in California. Despite the state’s relatively high share of Fijian residents, only 0.05% of California’s total population is Fijian. While more than 10 million Californians claim Mexican heritage, with a location quotient of 2.8, the state’s Mexican population is more in line with the country’s Mexican population. The only other state with a relatively high concentration of people with Fijian ancestry is Oregon, California’s neighbor to the north.