American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage
November Is American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month
From the Aleutian Islands to the Florida Everglades, American Indians and Alaska Natives have contributed immensely to our country's heritage. During National Native American Heritage Month, we commemorate their enduring achievements and reaffirm the vital role American Indians and Alaska Natives play in enriching the character of our Nation.
For more information, see the White House, Presidential Proclamation National Native American Heritage Month, 2011.
Both the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the 2010 Census define "American Indian/Alaska Native" as people having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment.
This category includes people who indicate their race(s) as "American Indian or Alaska Native” or report an enrolled or principal tribe, such as Navajo, Blackfeet, Inupiat, Yup'ik, or Central American Indian groups or South American Indian groups.
For more information, see the U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Briefs, Overview of Race & Hispanic Origin: 2010. [PDF - 5.27MB]
According to U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 there were roughly 5.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) living in the United States, representing approximately 1.7% of the U.S. total population.
The projected U.S. AI/AN population for July 1, 2050, is estimated to reach 8.6 million, constituting approximately 2% of the U.S. population by that date.3
The proportion of Alaska's population identified as AI/AN as of the 2010 Census was 19.5%, the highest rate for AI/AN of any state. Alaska was followed by Oklahoma (12.9%), New Mexico (10.7%), and South Dakota (10.1%).
As of April 1, 2010, the median age of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population was 29.0, younger than the overall median age of 37.2. About 30% of AIANs were younger than 18, and 8% were 65 and older.
States with the largest AI/AN populations as of the 2010 Census, were California (723,225), Oklahoma (482,760), and Arizona (353,386).
For more information, see the U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month, November 2011.
Examples of Important Health Disparities
CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report
The CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report–United States, 2011 (CHDIR), provides analysis and reporting of recent trends and ongoing variations in health disparities and inequalities in selected social and health indicators—important steps in encouraging actions and facilitating accountability to reduce modifiable disparities through applying interventions that are effective and scalable
Examples of important health disparities noted in the CHDIR:
- In 2006, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) mothers had the second highest infant death rate compared with other mothers. The AI/AN infant death rate was second to the rate among African American mothers and 48.4% greater than the rate among white mothers.
- In 2007, AI/AN populations (combined) had the highest rate of motor vehicle-related deaths, one of the highest rates of suicides, and the second highest death rate due to drugs (includes illicit, prescription, and over-the-counter) compared with other racial/ethnic populations.
- In 2009, AI/AN adults were among those with the highest prevalences of binge drinking, one of the highest number of binge drinking episodes per individual, and the highest number of drinks consumed during binge drinking.
- In 2008, the AI/AN birth rate among females 10-19 years of age was the third highest (following African Americans and Hispanics).
- In 2009, both AI/AN youth aged 12-17 years and AI/AN adults aged 18 years or older had the highest prevalences of current smoking compared with other racial/ethnic populations.
- In 2009, AI/AN adults aged 18 years and older who did not complete high school represented the second highest prevalence—second to Hispanics and similar to African Americans. The prevalence among AI/AN adults was 127.3% higher than the prevalence among white adults.
- In 2009, the percentage of AI/AN adults living in poverty was among the highest compared with other racial/ethnic groups (and was similar to African American and Hispanics percentages). Twelve percent more AI/AN adults lived below the federal poverty level, as compared to white adults.
- In 2009, AI/AN adults who owned or rented housing more often lived in inadequate and unhealthy housing compared with white adult householders. The percentage of AI/AN living in poor housing was similar to percentages among African American and Hispanic householders and was among the highest.
- In 2008, the percentage of AI/AN adults aged 50 years and older who received colorectal screening was 9% less than the percentage screened among white adults.
- NCHS Healthy People 2010 Final Review (2010)
- NCHS Healthy People 2010 AI/AN Snapshot [PDF - 124KB]
- CDC Wonder, Data 2010: the Healthy People 2010 Database
- Healthy People 2020
- Healthy People 2020 Brochure [PDF - 948KB]
- NCHS Healthy People 2020 Summary
Programs and Accomplishments
CDC's Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS), Tribal Support Unit, serves as the primary link between CDC/ATSDR and Tribal governments.
CDC/ATSDR works with Tribal Governments, Native-serving organizations, Urban Indian Health Programs, the Indian Health Service (IHS), and others to establish and increase collaborations to strengthen infrastructure and capacity. The CDC/ATSDR Tribal Consultation Policy establishes agency policy and guidance for consultation between CDC/ATSDR and elected Tribal leaders. The CDC/ATSDR Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) meets to exchange information about public health issues in Indian Country, identify urgent public health needs in AI/AN communities, and discuss collaborative approaches to addressing these issues and needs.
In addition, a variety of health disparities affect AI/AN communities, including, disproportionately high prevalence for: Diabetes, Suicide, Teenage Pregnancy, Infant Death, Unintentional and Motor Vehicle Injuries, Chronic Liver Disease, and Cirrhosis.
- Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE)
- Office for State, Tribal, Local & Territorial Support (OSTLTS)
- Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- Diabetes Public Health Resource, Native Diabetes Wellness Program (NDWP)
- Injury, Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety, Native American Road Safety
- National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ~ March 20th
- Health Disparities in HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs, & TB: American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Health, United States, 2011 - American Indian or Alaska Native Population
- FastStats - Health of American Indian or Alaska Native Population
- Socio-demographic Maps - American Indians and Alaska Natives
- QuickStats Term Infant Mortality Rates, by Race/Ethnicity—US, 2007, MMWR Oct. 14, 2011/60(40);1396
- Division of Reproductive Health
US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
Office of Minority Health (OMH)
- National American Indian Heritage Month - November
- American Indian/Alaska Native Profile
- Minority Women's Health - American Indians/Alaska Natives
Other Federal Government
- Indian Health Service (IHS)
- White House Presidential Proclamation
- White House Executive Order 13270 Tribal Colleges and Universities [PDF - 156KB]
- US Census Bureau Facts for Features: 2011
- US Dept of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
- USA.gov for Tribal Governments & Native Americans
- MedlinePlus: American Indian Health
- National Native AIDS Awareness Day ~ March 20
Get email updates
To receive email updates about this page, enter your email address:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO