The nation’s indigenous people had a population of nearly 10 million before European settlers explored America and their numbers began to fall rapidly shortly thereafter 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 US 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.
The state with the highest percentage of Native Americans is Alaska at 13.77%. Alaska, however, does not have the highest number of Native Americans in the state. Oklahoma has 276,650 Native Americans living in the state, the highest in the United States, comprising 7.10% of the state’s population.
The state with the lowest percentage of Native Americans is New Jersey at .10% of the state’s population and a total of 9,282 Native Americans. The District of Columbia has 1,140 Native Americans living in the state, the lowest in the United States, comprising .17% of the state’s total population.
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%.