The nation's indigenous people had a population of nearly 10 million before European settlers explored America. Their numbers began to fall rapidly shortly after that due to war and diseases brought by the settlers. Native Americans faced centuries of persecution and discrimination, losing their land and resources and being forced onto reservations that lacked the soil and natural resources needed to build and sustain their communities.
Today, Native Americans still face threats from federal and state governments related to land-use and resource extraction. Native Americans have the highest poverty rate of any major racial group, with one in four people living below the poverty line.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current total population of Native Americans in the United States is 6.79 million, which is about 2.09% of the entire population. There are about 574 federally recognized Native American tribes in the U.S.
Fifteen states have Native American populations of over 100,000. Additionally, 15 states have relative Native American populations below 1.00%.
California has the highest number of Native Americans, with a population of 757,628, comprising about 1.94% of its total population. Oklahoma follows with 523,360 Native Americans (13.36%)and Arizona with 391,620 (5.64%).
Alaska has the highest relative population of Native Americans, who make up 19.74% of the state's total population, about 145,816 people. Oklahoma has the second-highest relative population at 13.36% of the state's total population.
Vermont has the lowest total number of Native Americans of any state with 8,169, and New Jersey has the lowest relative population of Native Americans, 0.67% (59,511).
Los Angeles County in California has the highest number of Native Americans, with a total of 233,000. Oglala Lakota County in South Dakota has the highest percentage of Native Americans of any county at 93.9%.