By Rob Capriccioso
The numbers mean that approximately 1.7 percent of the United States’ population reported being American Indian and/or Alaska Native in 2010, of which 0.95 percent reported being Indian and/or Alaska Native only. Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders represented an additional 0.2 percent of the entire population.
There was an 18 percent growth in the American Indian and Alaska Native alone population between 2000 and 2010, which means that Indians stayed the same in their proportion of the total population in that time period. In 2000, 2.5 million had reported being American Indian and Alaska Native alone.
That fact is disappointing to some Indian analysts who had hoped that the Native population numbers would equate to a larger percentage of the population in 2010. While the growth in overall Native numbers is appreciated, a greater share of the population would have also been desirable. Many tribes and Indian organizations had worked to increase the Native numbers, and the Census Bureau itself had worked to improve outreach to Indians for the 2010 count.
Well, 2.9 million claimed to be Native only, so the max number should be 2.3 million. I'd hope that most of those 2.3 million checked "American Indian or Alaska Native" only if it was a significant part of their makeup. Like maybe a quarter or more. But I don't think there's any way of knowing.
To sum it up, 2.9 million Americans were Native only and 5.2 million were all or part Native in 2010. That's up from 2.5 and 4.5 million in 2000.
For more on the Census, see Indian Identity Matters to Indians and Hawaii, New Mexico Are Most Diverse.