The number of people who identify as Native American or Alaska Native alone grew by 27.1% to 3.7 million people over the last decade, according to the U.S. Census.
Why it matter: The spike in the number of people who solely identify as Native American or Alaska Native mirrors the steady rise of the population since 1890, when Indigenous people were nearly wiped out in the U.S. following decades of mass extermination, forced boarding schools and land theft.
But years of resistance and legal battles over tribal sovereignty and civil rights have allowed Indigenous populations to rebound to their largest size in modern U.S. history. Together, the Native American and Alaska Native alone or in-combination population comprised 9.7 million people in 2020. The combination population grew by 160% since 2010. In 2020, the Native American and Alaska Native alone population accounted for 1.1% of all people living in the United States. That's a jump compared with 0.9% in 2010.
"The numbers really do reflect the diversity that we're seeing today in the real world and in Indian Country. So we're very pleased with it," said Yvette Roubideaux, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and vice president for research and director of the policy research center at the National Congress of American Indians.