The 2010 US Census reported that the majority of the AI/AN alone-or-in-combination population (78 percent) lived outside of American Indian and Alaska Native areas.
CHALLENGES IN INDIAN COUNTRY
As a result of historical trauma, chronically underfunded federal programs, and policies of the US government, Native Americans experience many health, educational, and economic disparities compared to the general population.
The poverty rate among AI/ANs in 2014 was 28.8% (United States Census), and more than one in three AI/AN children live in poverty.
In 2012, the average AI/AN household income was reported at $37,353 while the national average was $56,565, according to OMH and Duthu in American Indians and the Law (2008) respectively. In 2014, unemployment rates for AI/ANs nationally stood at 11.3% – twice the average for white Americans (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Some tribal communities report persistent rates of unemployment above 80%.
As of 2013 approximately 7.5% of homes in Indian Country lack safe drinking water and proper waste removal systems (Indian Health Service).
23.1% of AI/ANs lacked health insurance coverage in 2014 (United States Census) and relied solely on the Indian Health Service (IHS) system. In 2013 IHS per capita expenditures for patient health services were just $2,849, compared to $7,717 per person for health care spending nationally. (NCAI)
Other Health Disparities
In 2013, chronic liver disease was the fifth leading cause of death for all American Indians/Alaska Natives. (Center for Disease Control)
AI/AN adults are 2.4 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes. (OMH)
In 2012, the tuberculosis rate for AI/ANs was 6.3, as compared to 0.8 for the White population. (OMH)
STATISTICS ON NATIVE AMERICAN YOUTH
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death – 2.5 times the national rate – for AI/AN youth in the 15 to 24 age group (CDC). In the US, between 1 in 9 and 1 in 5 AI/AN youth report attempting suicide each year (Suicide Prevention Resource Center).
AI/AN youth are arrested at a rate of three times the national average, and 79% of youth in the Federal Bureau of Prison’s custody are AI/AN (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004).
AI/ANs are disproportionately suspended and expelled, representing less than 1% of the student population, but 2% of out-of-school suspensions and 3% of expulsions (White House Native Youth Report).
The national graduation rate for AI/AN high school hovers around 79% in comparison to over 94% for white students. (High school completion includes General Educational Development (GED) certificate recipients (Childstats.gov).
The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) reports that AI/AN children are overrepresented in foster care – at more than 2.4 times the general population – and 2 to 4 times the expected level are awaiting adoption.
AI/AN children have the 3rd highest rate of victimization at 11.6 per 1,000 children of the same race or ethnicity. In 2009, 7,335 AI/AN children were victims of child maltreatment (NICWA).
In 2013, the rate of death among American Indian infants was the second-lowest among racial/ethnic groups, at 401 per 100,000. However, American Indians had the second-highest death rate for children ages one to four and 15 to 19. (childtrends.org)
“Tomorrow is not promised. The Creator can take a fluent speaking elder any day, so I feel it is my duty to step up and save our language. Now is not the time to turn our backs on learning our languages, customs, or culture. If we turn away now, we lose our identity as Natitaytma (Native Americans).”