Almost half of American Indians and Alaska Natives identify with multiple races, representing a group that grew by 39 percent over a decade, according to U.S. Census data released Wednesday.
Of the 5.2 million people counted as Natives in 2010, nearly 2.3 million reported being Native in combination with one or more of six other race categories, showcasing a growing diversity among Natives. Those who added black, white or both as a personal identifier made up 84 percent of the multi-racial group.
Tribal officials and organizations look to Census data for funding, to plan communities, to foster solidarity among tribes and for accountability from federal agencies that have a trust responsibility with tribal members.
The bump in the multi-racial group from 1.6 million in 2000 to nearly 2.3 million in 2010 was higher than that of those who reported being solely of Native descent.
"When information comes out and is available for our tribes and tribal communities, we have a lot of issues going back to identity," said Mellor Willie, executive director of the National American Indian Housing Council. "Who is Indian?"
The Census figures, released during a presentation at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., also include people living in the United States who consider themselves indigenous to Central and South America. Tribal officials say it's the best snapshot of Native people available, but the data is often supplemented with tribal enrollment figures or other surveys and studies.
Amber Ebarb, with the National Congress of American Indians' Policy Research Center, said the data also is used to track trends among states and regions, determine the mobility patterns of Natives and figure out how best to deliver services to Natives or conduct outreach.
"It's kind of a function of geography," she said. "There's this trend where single-race American Indians live in tribal communities and multi-race Natives live farther."
The Blackfeet Nation in Montana had the highest proportion of people who reported being part of more than one racial group or tribe at 74 percent. Among Alaska Native groups, the Tlingit-Haida had the highest proportion of mixed-race Natives at 42 percent.
The number of Natives identifying with at least one other race increased in all but three states from 2000 to 2010, according to the Census.
Some tribes were less diverse. Of the 34,000 people who identify as Yup'ik, an Alaska Native tribe, 29,000 said they were affiliated with no other race. The Navajo Nation, whose reservation stretches into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, had the highest proportion of people who identified as Native and nothing else at 86 percent of its 332,000 population, Census officials said.
The Navajo Nation comes in second in population behind the Cherokee's 819,000 population, 65 percent of whom identify with another race.
Census Director Robert Groves said the bureau has projected that the overall Native population will increase to 6.8 million in 2030 and about 8.6 million in 2050. Both multiracial Natives and Natives alone grew at a rate higher from 2000 to 2010 than the U.S. population at large.
Among other findings:
—Seventy-eight percent of Natives live off tribal reservations but many live in counties close to reservations, particularly throughout the West, including Oklahoma.
—The majority of Natives live in 10 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.
—The population of multi-racial Natives jumped by more than 50 percent in 18 states, and by more than 70 percent in North Carolina, Delaware and South Dakota.
Last Updated on Monday, 30 January 2012 23:14
Ten years ago, the library on the Cahuilla Indian reservation outside Palm Springs was a dusty old building with few books and no climate control. Today it is the reservation's social center for learning, with a fully functioning library and a full-time librarian.
"Our library is a place for our people to gather to share stories, read, use the computer, play chess, just hang out," said Luisa Armijo, the library's director.
Armijo credits UC's Berkeley's John Berry for transforming the Torres Martinez library. Berry is Native American Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies librarian at Cal's Ethnic Studies Library.
Berry began advising Armijo about 10 years ago, shortly after he arrived at Berkeley from Oklahoma State University, where he had been assistant director of graduate studies and a library faculty member.
The Torres Martinez library is one of more than 10 tribal libraries in California and around the nation that Berry has helped develop. This work is in addition to his full-time librarian duties, which include building and cataloging the Native American collection at Berkeley, answering reference questions and helping Ethnic Studies faculty and CAL students with their research.
Tribal libraries serve many purposes, depending on the tribe's circumstances and needs, Berry said. Some libraries serve as an archive; others are museums; still others are educational, often serving as an adjunct school library. Many combine some or all of these functions. Few have professionally trained librarians or sufficient resources to serve their communities.
Quite often, Berry said, the tribal library is located in an area where a public library is not accessible. Or local libraries don't pay attention to the tribes' needs, so the tribes need to develop collections and resources relevant to their people.
"Native Americans have always had libraries," Armijo said. "But they were living libraries-our oral tradition of stories, our petroglyphs. Now they have evolved, but John has helped our library maintain our culture."
Berry has advised tribal libraries on everything from how to set up a library catalog to the types of materials to include in the collection and how to get funding for the library.
"John helped us build our collection, showed us where to buy books at a discount and where to find people willing to donate books to our library," Armijo said. "Today we have an extensive Native American collection that other libraries don't have.
"We are recognized as an educational library with a commitment to literacy and higher education," she said. "As a result, surrounding school districts work with us, and that has led to additional grants for the library.
"But it's not just John's ideas about organizing a library collection that have helped us develop the library," Armijo said. "It is his knowledge of what it means to be on a reservation and his ability to work with tribal groups that has helped us make the connection between the library and education."
For example, when Berry and Armijo wanted to develop an online catalog, he spoke to the tribal council to explain the project, which included training high school students and young adults in cataloging.
"I have Indian heritage, as many of us in Oklahoma do," Berry said. "It came naturally to seek out other native people. I believe in giving back to the community. I've advised and consulted, but they take their energy and ingenuity to build services for their people."
Anne Wolf is systemwide coordinator in UC Internal Communications.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 June 2011 20:43
Michelle S. Kim / University Communications.
While their peers party on, some UCI students spend spring vacation working on various service projects, from planting a garden at a Native American reservation in San Diego County to putting the shine on the Golden Gate national park in San Francisco.
During last month's spring break, as most college students recovered from finals by lounging in the sun, 14 UC Irvine undergraduates toiled under it at the La Jolla Indian Reservation, in northern San Diego County. They helped the Luiseno tribe plant a community garden, haul trash and pick California white sage for an upcoming Earth Day celebration.
"The students could go anywhere — to Florida, to Mexico, to Vegas. They could go home or go party on the beach," says John Flores, the tribe's environmental program manager, who oversees the student projects during their stay. "But they come here. It's so selfless of them to volunteer their time."
A total of about 50 UCI students sacrificed what precious little R&R they get during the academic year to participate in the campus Center for Service in Action's Alternative Break program. From March 20 to 26, they helped nonprofit organizations at five sites statewide.
"It's a unique way for UCI students to engage in a community service project," says Tiffani Razo, a fourth-year international studies major who led the La Jolla reservation project. "A lot of them say they want to get involved but don't have time during the school year."
Two other groups of UCI volunteers went to San Francisco to help a healthcare agency serving the needy and to spruce up Golden Gate National Recreation Area by removing invasive plants and maintaining trails. Another contingent served meals to the homeless at Dorothy's Place, a shelter in Salinas.
"Alternative Break is an opportunity for students to step outside their comfort zone and really immerse themselves in a different environment and community. There's only so much you can learn from textbooks," says Thao Le, a fourth-year anthropology major who organized the Salinas project and has spent past breaks volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in Questa, N.M., and the La Jolla reservation.
"This trip has been an eye-opening experience. People come to Dorothy's Place because they feel at home and want someone to listen to their stories. Everyone has his or her own struggles, and we challenged ourselves to seek understanding, not judgment. Our group learned that the common factor of homelessness is a broken heart."
Both the students and those they help gain from the experience, participants say.
The volunteers have provided much-needed labor at the La Jolla Indian Reservation since a devastating fire swept through it in October 2007. They've planted hundreds of trees around homes and the campground to restore the land.
"The community loves having them here," Flores says. "They don't fit the stereotype of rowdy college kids. We admire what they're doing."
The students gain exposure to life beyond campus and their hometowns.
"Most have never been to a tribal reservation or met a Native American," Flores says. "There's a misconception that Native Americans are all about casinos and gaming. This is a chance for them to see a nongaming tribe in a rural area."
They also get to enjoy the natural surroundings, he notes: "Many haven't spent much time outside suburbia. We're in the foothills, at the base of Palomar Mountain in Pauma Valley. The kids are shocked at how beautiful it is. They say they've never seen so many stars."
During the week, students stay on the reservation, sleeping on cots in a classroom. They enjoy a farewell dinner hosted by the tribe that includes traditional Indian food, storytelling and singing. They also tutor and play games with K-8 children in the reservation's after-school program.
"The Luisenos share their culture with us," Razo says. "We have better insight into the Native American community and how they value their resources."
The students will return to the reservation April 30 to join in the tribe's Earth Day celebration.
"We really formed a bond with the community members — and with each other," Razo says. "What's great about Alternative Break is that you get to share the experience with your fellow students, who come from all backgrounds."
Founded in spring 2003, Alternative Break was started at UCI by a small group who spent the week off school volunteering at Orange County nonprofit organizations. Since then, the program has grown to include five projects in spring and two in winter, with groups of about 14 students working at sites throughout California and out of state.
"Students gain so much from Alternative Break. They learn about themselves, their values and social issues. They return to campus more motivated to get involved and continue their public service," says Darlene Esparza, director of the Center for Service in Action.
"One of the most rewarding projects took place in Biloxi, Miss., in 2006, when they assisted with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. That program had such a positive impact on them. Although the volunteers witnessed destruction and tragedy, they were most affected by the community's warmth and resiliency."
Project leaders invest time during the school year planning the Alternative Breaks. They research locations, interview students who apply to volunteer, hold seminars, and coordinate guest speakers and events during the trips. In addition, they participate in quarterly service projects in Orange County, such as helping out at local soup kitchens.
Jess Hinton, a fourth-year biological sciences major, organized last month's trip to San Francisco-based Home CARES, which collects used medical equipment and distributes it to the needy.
"My goal was for students to learn about the challenges poor people in the U.S. face in receiving healthcare. I wanted this to be an educational experience," says Hinton, whose group also volunteered at St. Vincent de Paul's in Oakland.
"When I compared doing this for a week versus staying home, going on the trip was the better choice," she says. "I gained perspective and humility. Alternative Break is something I'll never forget."
—Kathryn Bold, University Communications
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 June 2011 20:56
Welcome to Tishmall Turner from California State University, San Marcos! Tishmall will be the new statewide lead for the creation of a CSU version of the American Indian Counselors & Recruiters Association. Tishmall has been approved as an honorary AICRA member on an annual basis to learn from our existing association. Tishmall will also be coordinating the 4th Annual Native American Professional Development Conference to be hosted at CSU San Marcos in November. We look forward to her leadership and great things to come with the inclusion of our California State University counterparts!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 June 2011 20:58