Native Americans helped make possible the first Thanksgiving Day feast. Of course there was no talk of building walls to keep out immigrants or political wrangling with a president over any executive order to enable 5 million undocumented newcomers to stay.
As Native American Heritage Month draws to a close and because of the American Indian’s hospitality on the first Thanksgiving Day, it is important to examine that part of the United State’s diversity as we 316 million Americans enjoy the festive holiday of food, fun, football and family. Facts from the U.S. Census tell us that in 2013 there are 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes. In 2012 the nation included 325 federally recognized American Indian reservations.
The U.S. has 1.7 million American Indian and Alaska Native households, and 53.9 percent of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native households owned their own home in 2013. Twenty percent of the people in this demographic group age 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home in 2011-2013 compared with 21 percent for the U.S. as a whole.
But all is not good for this segment of the U.S. population. The median income of single-race American Indian and Alaska Native households in 2013 was $36,252 compared with $52,176 for the U.S. as a whole, and 29.2 percent of Native Americans that year lived in poverty — the highest rate of any racial group. The poverty rate for the U.S. was 15.9 percent.
Close to 27 percent of single-race American Indians and Alaska Natives lacked health insurance in 2013 compared with 14.5 percent for the nation as a whole.
Native Americans constitute about 2 percent of the total U.S. population, or 5.2 million people. The American Indian and Alaska Native population is expected to grow to 11.2 million by July 1, 2060.
It is a younger demographic. The median age for American Indians and Alaska Natives in 2013 was 30.8 compared with 37.5 for the U.S. population as a whole. More than 82 percent had a high school diploma or higher compared with 86.3 percent for the overall U.S. population.