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World Languages and Cultures

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Published Version

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The Indigenous World

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The indigenous population in the United States of America ranges from 2.5 to 6 million people, of which 23% live in American Indian areas or Alaska Native villages. The largest indigenous population is concentrated in the state of California and New York City. 567 Native American tribal entities were recognized as American Indian or Alaska Native tribes by the United States in January 2017, and most of these have recognized national homelands. While socioeconomic indicators vary widely across the different regions, the poverty rate for those who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native alone is around 27%. The United States announced in 2010 that it would support the UNDRIP as moral guidance after voting against it in 2007. The United States has not ratified ILO Convention No. 169. Federally-recognized Native nations are sovereign but legally wards of the state. The federal government mandates tribal consultation on many issues but has plenary powers over indigenous nations. American Indians in the United States are generally American citizens; they are also citizens of their own nations.


This article is published as Braun, S. "United States of America” in The Indigenous World 2018. Edited by Pamela JacquelinAndersen.(2018);68-74. Copenhagen: IWGIA. Posted with permission.

A Spanish version is available below.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs



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