November 06, 2008

Are Indians vanishing again?!

Is Daryl Hannah the actor (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) and activist writing articles on multicultural and Native issues? I guess so. But it doesn't matter how famous she is if she doesn't know what she's talking about.

American Indians:  The Shrinking Population

By Daryl C. HannahMany Americans know little about American Indians outside of the film "Dances with Wolves" or the Atlanta Braves' tomahawk chop. And what people are even less familiar with is the shrinking of the American Indian population.

The U.S. population of American Indians dropped 4.3 percent between 2000 and 2006. They currently represent only 0.8 percent of the entire U.S. population.
Comment:  I don't know where Hannah got her population figures from, but they're wrong. Here are the actual numbers from the US Census:

2.7 million: American Indian and Alaska Native (alone), 2000 Census

2.9 million: American Indian and Alaska Native (alone), 2006 Census estimate

4.2 million: American Indian and Alaska Native (in combination with other races), 2000 Census

4.5 million: American Indian and Alaska Native (in combination with other races), 2006 Census estimate

Source:  Annual Estimates of the Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007 (NC-EST2007-03)

I'm having a hard time even imagining where Hannah got her cockeyed claim. If I had to guess, I'd say every ethnic group in the US is increasing in population. Why would one group be decreasing when every other group is increasing? It does not compute.

For more on the subject, see The "Vanishing Breed" and The Essential Facts About Indians Today.

Below:  Hannah stomps on the concept of accurate reporting.


Anonymous said...


From the "Democracy Now" website
August 27, 2008

When Off the Silver Screen, Actress Daryl Hannah Seen on Frontlines of Environmental Movements

Actress Daryl Hannah is in Denver this week to attend the Green Frontier Fest and other environmental events around the Democratic National Convention.

Over the past twenty-five years, Hannah has starred in dozens of films, including Blade Runner, Splash and Kill Bill. But besides the big screen, Hannah can often be seen on the frontlines of various environmental movements.

Last year, she traveled to Ecuador to meet with indigenous groups suing Chevron to stop contaminating the Amazon, and before that, she spent three weeks camped in a tree in a South Central farm in Los Angeles. END

My best guess is that Ms. Hannah's interests in things Indian are linked to her concerns as an environmentalist, so she felt (as do all "true believers") compelled to expound on this particular subject.


There's a little light in that forest after all - not too much, but some anyway.

Anonymous said...

Or is her first name Daryl?

In my mind, she rarely comes up as anyone of any particular significance. I thought she was fantastic though in "Blade Runner" and "Clan of the Cave Bear."

She looks as though she could be 256th Cherokee, too! If so, she'd displace Ward Churchill as my favorite celebrity of Cherokee ancestry.

dmarks said...

Since the Emancipation Proclamation and whatever acts that gave Indians the right to vote, there is no need at all for any racial/ethnic questions as part of the U.S. Census. Race has no bearing on counts of citizens to be represented in Congress in the districts.

Rob said...

I don't think the US Census has a "multiethnic/multiracial" category, Genevieve. But in 2000, I believe people could check two or more boxes or write in answers.

What the Census does have is pretty clear: American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with other races (white or black). The population in these two categories is increasing.

If some "multiracial" category (i.e., people who check several boxes or write in answers) is increasing also, that doesn't change the facts about Native people. The Native population is increasing according to the Census.

What Hannah may have meant was that the percentage of people who are Native alone is decreasing as people increasingly choose Native plus another category. But that's much different from what she said. The percentage of people who are Native alone may be decreasing even as the actual number of Natives is increasing.

FYI, here are the official racial categories in the Census:

The categories (made available in OMB Bulletin No. 00-02, "Guidance on Aggregation and Allocation of Data on Race for Use in Civil Rights Monitoring and Enforcement") to be used are:

1. American Indian and Alaska Native

2. Asian

3. Black or African American

4. Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander

5. White

6. American Indian and Alaska Native and White

7. Asian and White

8. Black or African American and White

9. American Indian and Alaska Native and Black or African American

10. >1 percent: Fill in if applicable with multiracial combinations greater than 1% of the population

11. Balance of individuals reporting more than one race

12. Total

Rob said...

We've discussed why the Census needs to gather racial data, DMarks. Here's the reason again:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with extensions, amendments, and court interpretations, have expanded the need for race and ethnicity data for all levels of geography, including individual blocks. These data are required for congressional and state election redistricting, for enforcement of federal, state, and local civil rights statutes, for allocation of funds and administration of programs at every level of government, and for many related purposes (see Appendix C). The decennial census is currently the primary source of race and ethnicity data to fulfill these many legal requirements. Without a change in the legal framework, the required race and ethnicity data need to be collected in the census. Coupled with survey information and data from administrative records, census data also satisfy other legislative and programmatic requirements for data on race and ethnicity.

Rob said...

P.S. Daryl, if you need help with the numbers and categories, give me a call. We can discuss them over coffee or a meal. I was a math major in college, so you can trust me. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Daryl C. Hannah is a man who writes for

Rob said...

Really, Anonymous? Hmm. What an amazing coincidence that Daryl C. Hannah the actress also cares about multicultural and Native issues.