, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 1101–1130 | Cite as

More Than One Million New American Indians in 2000: Who Are They?

  • Carolyn A. LieblerEmail author
  • Timothy Ortyl


More than one million people reported their race as American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) in the 2000 U.S. census but did not do so in the 1990 census. We ask three questions. First, which subgroups had the greatest numerical growth? Second, which subgroups had the greatest proportional increase? And third, are the 2000 single-race AIANs and the 1990 AIANs the same set of people? We use full-count and high-density decennial census data; adjust for birth, death, and immigration; decompose on age, gender, Latino origin, education, and birth state; and compare the observed subgroup sizes in 2000 with the sizes expected based on 1990 counts. The largest numerical increases were among adolescent and middle-aged non-Latinos, non-Latino women, and adults with no college degree. Latinos, women, highly educated adults, and people born in Eastern states had the largest proportionate gains. The ability to report multiple races in 2000 and the new federal definition of “American Indian” may have especially affected these groups, although personal-identity changes are probably also involved. We find that thousands of new Latino AIANs reported only one race in 2000, but many 1990 AIANs reported multiple races in 2000. Thus, the 1990 AIANs and 2000 single-race AIANs are not always the same individuals.


Race American Indian U.S. census Research Data Center Racial identification 


Acknowledgments and Disclaimer

This is a posthumous publication for Dr. Ortyl who died suddenly in 2013. His contributions to this article and sociology’s broader intellectual community were substantial. The research was conducted in the Minnesota Research Data Center, which receives funding from the National Science Foundation (SES-0851417 and ITR-0427889). Funding was provided by a Grant-in-Aid-of-Research from the College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota. We also gratefully acknowledge support from the Minnesota Population Center, which is funded by a center grant from the National Institutes of Health (R24-HD041023). This research was presented at the 2011 annual meetings of the Population Association of America and the Research Data Center Annual Research Conference, and was published by the U.S. Census Bureau as Center for Economic Studies Working Paper 13-02. For helpful comments, we thank J. Trent Alexander, Caren Arbeit, Julia Rivera Drew, Catherine Fitch, Liying Luo, Ann Meier, Sonya Rastogi, C. Matthew Snipp, John Robert Warren, and Meghan Zacher. Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U. S. Census Bureau. All results have been reviewed to ensure that no confidential information is disclosed.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 83 kb)


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Minnesota Population CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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