Long before European map-makers laid out the contours of what would become the United States and Canada, Indigenous peoples populated the continent. As Europeans arrived in greater numbers, conflict arose between the newcomers and those whose ancestors had been living in North America for many thousands of years.
Though Indian reservations date back to the mid-18th century, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 had a calamitous effect, forcing native inhabitants out of most areas east of the Mississippi River and onto reservations in the western parts of the continent — away from European-based population centers. Marginalization of Indigenous peoples continued for decades afterward, leaving a legacy of broken promises and dishonored treaties.
Today, some 78% of Indigenous peoples live in towns and cities around the country, while the rest live on reservations and other designated tribal areas. These areas are protected by the U.S. government, which assures the sovereignty of tribes. (These are the states with the most Indian reservations or tribal areas.)
To identify the number of Native Americans in every state (or the number of Alaska Natives in the case of Alaska), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. Census Bureau data on the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) population in each state.
According to the Census Bureau, as of 2021, our population of Native Americans and Alaska Natives stands at 6.79 million, about 2.09% of the total population. The great majority of them live in the Southern and Western states, though each U.S. state has an Indigenous population, and seven states have more than 100,000 Native Americans. (Here’s a list of every state with a Native American name.)
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