Sunday, December 2, 2007

American Indian Profile

Why is it so important for the Virginia Indian Tribes to gain federal sovereignty? Why it is the first Indians the new world explorers came in contact with have never received recognition when in 1998 the BIA statistics list 556 federally-recognized American Indian Tribes?

The profile of the American Indian looks something like this. Almost one percent of the U. S. population is American Indians according the 1999 Census Bureau.

There are 314 Indian reservations located with the United States. They range in size from smallest, Rancheria in California just under 2 acres while the largest is Navajo, which is about 16 million acres in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Some Tribes are without land bases, such as the Ponca of Nebraska and the Lytton Rancheria in California. Twenty-two percent of the American Indian population lives on reservations and trust lands.

The smallest Tribe, the Augustine Band of Mission Indians in California, have a population of one. The largest Tribe is the Cherokee in North Carolina, their population is about 308,000.

Thirty-nine percent of the American Indian population is under the age of 20 (Twenty-nine percent for total U.S. population). Eight percent of the American Indian population is over 60 years old (seventeen percent for total U.S. population).

American Indians tend to have larger families than the average, because about 80% live in extended-family households.

Thirty-four percent of American Indians over age 25 never graduate from high school. Nine percent of American Indians have a bachelor's degree or higher (3% have graduate or professional degrees). The unemployment rate among American Indians is 14% (6% for total U.S. population). One-third of the American Indian households live below the poverty level (Census Bureau, 1995).

In 1996, 67% of the Tribes had no gaming operations. Of the Tribes that did have gaming, 10 of them earned more than 50% of the gaming income (GAO, A Profile of the Indian Gaming Industry, May 1997).

Twenty percent of American Indian households on reservations lack complete plumbing facilities (hot and cold piped water, a flush toilet, and a bathtub or shower). Eleven percent lack complete plumbing. About 1 in 5 disposes of sewage by means other than public sewer, septic tank, or cesspool. Eighteen percent do not have complete kitchens. Wood heat is the primary source for one in every three homes.

In rural areas, 12% of Native households lack electricity and 23% lack gas (EDA 1999). Only 39% of rural households in Native communities have telephones compared to 94% for non-Native rural communities (EDA Assessment of Technology Infrastructure in Native Communities, June 1999). Of rural Native households, only 22% have cable television, 9% have personal computers, and of those, only 8% have Internet access (EDA 1999). Talk about the great digital divide.

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