Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

36. Oklahoma
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: American Indian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as American Indian: 14.1%
> Share of U.S. American Indian population living in state: 8.4%

Oklahoma has the largest share of American Indian residents in the country. More than 14% of Oklahoma residents identify as American Indian, or 8.4% of the total U.S. American Indian population. Unlike many of the most unique heritages in a state, the American Indian population is indigenous to Oklahoma. American Indian populations were forcibly relocated by European settlers as early as the 15th century, and their location today is largely dictated by state and federal policies. Unlike those in other parts of the country, most Oklahoman tribes were able to stay within the state, and others from east of the Mississippi were relocated there as well.

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37. Oregon
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Congolese
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Congolese: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Congolese population living in state: 10.4%

Although just 2,249 Oregon residents identify as Congolese, this number represents more than 10% of the 21,668 nationwide residents who identify similarly, making it the most unique heritage in the state. Like many of those with African ancestry, the first Congolese came to the United States as slaves in the 17th century. More recently, Congolese have come to America as refugees from the region’s political turmoil.

38. Pennsylvania
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Pennsylvania German
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Pennsylvania German: 1.0%
> Share of U.S. Pennsylvania German population living in state: 46.4%

Of the 231,474 U.S. citizens who identify as Pennsylvania German, nearly half of them live in Pennsylvania. At one point, all Pennsylvania Germans lived in Pennsylvania, as the ancestral designation is the product of immigrants from southwest Germany who settled in the state in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Pennsylvania Germans have since migrated to other states, and they are highly concentrated in Delaware, Ohio, and Indiana today. Pennsylvania Germans speak a dialect of the German language, which is popular amongst Amish communities.

39. Rhode Island
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Cape Verdean
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Cape Verdean: 2.1%
> Share of U.S. Cape Verdean population living in state: 20.9%

Just 2.1% of Rhode Island residents identify as Cape Verdean, but nearly 21% of all individuals reporting such heritage nationwide live in the state. One of the only museums dedicated to Cape Verdean culture is in East Providence. According to the museum’s exhibit, most Cape Verdean-Americans owe their ancestry to whalers and seasonal cranberry farm workers migrating to New England.

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40. South Carolina
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Scotch Irish
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Scotch Irish: 2.6%
> Share of U.S. Scotch Irish population living in state: 3.1%

Although just 2.6% of South Carolina residents identify as Scotch Irish, they comprise over 3% of the roughly 3.3 million residents reporting such heritage nationwide. The Scotch Irish originally came to South Carolina in the 18th century via the Great Wagon Road, a trail leading from Pennsylvania to Georgia that left settlers in states along the way. Today, other states with high concentrations of Scotch Irish communities are North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.