The release of 2020 data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows significant increases in the country’s Native populations.
All multiracial groups gained percentages compared to the overall population. In the 10 years since 2010, the number of people the Census categorizes as American Indian and Alaska Native increased from 5.2 million to 9.7 million. In 2020, the American Indian and Alaska Native alone population (3.7 million) accounted for 1.1 percent of all people living in the United States, compared with 0.9 percent (2.9 million) in 2010.
The American Indian and Alaska Native alone population grew by 27.1 percent, and the American Indian and Alaska Native in combination population grew by 160 percent since 2010. The White and American Indian and Alaska Native population also increased, growing by about 2.5 million people or 177 percent, making it the second largest Multiracial combinations in 2020 (4 million).
As for percentages of population, several states have American Indian and Alaska Native alone as the second largest racial or ethnic group after Whites. Alaska (14.8 percent) was the most predominantly American Indian state, followed by New Mexico (8.9 percent), South Dakota (8.4 percent), Montana (6 percent) and North Dakota (4.8 percent).
In Arizona, American Indians and Alaska Natives make up 3.7 percent of the population, a slight increase. Montana’s Native population accounted for 6 percent of its residents, slightly less than the rate recorded in 2010, when the Census Bureau estimated that American Indians living on reservations were undercounted by nearly 5 percent.
The population jump has implications for things like congressional and legislative districts. It also affects representation in civic engagement and resource distribution. After the Census Bureau reported that American Indians living on reservations and Alaska Natives were undercounted by approximately 4.9 percent in the 2010 survey, several groups including the Native American Voters Alliance Education Project in New Mexico launched efforts to achieve an accurate count. The work of the New Mexico group led to the creation of a state coalition of tribes, tribal organizations and other groups.