Indian Country

Child Trauma Center



What Indian Country looks like:

Indian Country is used in a general sense to describe the location of reservations, allotment, trust land and tribal dependent Indian communities and Alaska Native villages. It is also a legal term that the federal govenment uses to deliniate jurisdiction and obligations.

  • American Indians make up 1.5% of the total population of the United States.
  • There are 4.1 million U.S. residents who reported as American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone or in combination with one or more races in Census 2000. The 2.5 million who reported as American Indian or
    Alaska Native alone represented 0.9% of the population.
  • The American Indian population increased 26% times faster than the total population between 1990 and 2000.
  • Four out of 10 American Indians live in the West (43%), 31% in the South, 17% in the Midwest, and 9% in the Northeast.
  • In 2000, there were 70.4 million children under the age of 18 in the United States; 64% of the children were
    white non-Hispanic, 15% were African American non-Hispanic, 4% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native.
  • The victimization rate for American Indian/Alaska Native children is 20.1 victims per 1,000 children of the same race, compared to a rate of 10.6 for White children, 25.2 for African-American, 4.4 for Asian-Americans, and
    12.6 for Hispanic children (DHHS, 2001).
  • 26.8% of American Indians and Alaska Natives lack health insurance coverage. Their rate is significantly higher than the rates of African Americans (19.5%), Asians and Pacific Islanders (18.8%), and non-Hispanic Whites (10.1%), but lower than that of Hispanics (32.8%).
  • 38% of the AI/AN population is under the age of 18; 9% of the population is under the age of 5.
  • Of single-mother homes, 50% live below poverty level; of single-father homes 32.8% live below poverty level
    and of 2-parent homes 18.5% live below poverty level.
  • 562 federally recognized tribes; all of these tribes are eligible to receive services evoked by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Dept. of Interior).
  • Despite the large number of federally recognized tribes, there are nearly 245 tribes that are not recognized federally and each one of these tribes continues to submit paperwork for federal recognition. Some of the federally non-recognized tribes are recognized by their individual states.
  • The largest tribal enrollment belongs to the Cherokee Nation with 729,533 and the Cree Nation has the smallest tribal enrollment with 7,734.
  • Heaviest American Indian and Alaska Native population resides in Alaska with Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, North & South Dakota, and Montana commanding a large portion of the entire population.
  • 538,300 American Indians and Alaska Natives live on reservations or other trust lands. Around 175,200 reside
    on the Navajo nation reservation and trust lands.
  • There are approximately 275 Indian land areas that contain nearly 56.2 million acres. Around 140 of the reservations have entirely tribally owned land.
  • 14% of American Indian and Alaska Natives, age 25 and over, have earned at least a bachelor’s degree;
  • 75% of American Indian and Alaska Natives, age 25 and over, have at least a high school diploma.
  • 125,000 of American Indian and Alaska Natives, age 25 and over, have an advanced degree (i.e., master’s, Ph.D, medical, or law).
  • Nearly 55% of all American Indians and Alaska Natives own their own home.
  • 381,000 speak their Native North American language. The language most commonly spokenis Navajo with 178,014 speakers.
  • 48% of American Indians and Alaska Natives are married.
  • November is known as “National American Indian Heritage Month” and it was enacted during the Bush Administration of 1990.

What is an Indian?

No single federal or tribal criterion establishes a person's identity as an Indian. Tribal membership is determined by the enrollment criteria of the tribe from which Indian blood may be derived, and this varies with each tribe. Generally, if linkage to an identified tribal member is far removed, one would not qualify for membership.

To be eligible for Bureau of Indian Affairs services, an Indian must:

(1) be a member of a tribe recognized by the federal government,
(2) be of one-half or more Indian blood of tribes indigenous to the United States; or
(3) must, for some purposes, be of one-fourth or more Indian ancestry.

By legislative and administrative decision, the Aleuts, Eskimos and Indians of Alaska are eligible for BIA services. Most of the BIA's services and programs, however, are limited to Indians living on or near Indian reservations.

Domestic Violence

  • AI/AN women report more domestic violence than men or women from any other race (CDC 2004).
  • One study found AI/AN women were twice as likely to be abused (physically or sexually) by a partner than the average woman (CDC 2004).
  • Risk is greater for AI women who live in very poor socioeconomic conditions.


Child Abuse and Neglect

  • AI/AN children make up 1.2% of the AI/AN child population.
  • AI/AN children make up 2.5% of all confirmed maltreatment cases nationally (highest incidence ratio of any racial group on available data nationwide- DHHS, 1999).
  • Neglect endangers AI/AN children 4 times more often than physical abuse and results in numerous child fatalities (NICWA, 1999).
  • There is one substantiated report of child victim of abuse or neglect for every 30 AI/AN children age 14 or younger. (Department of Justice, 1999).
  • The national rate is 12.3/1000 (NCCAN, 2002).
  • Reports of neglect appear to be higher for AI/AN children than for White children.
  • Violence is more likely to be reported among AI/AN families, both as an element of abuse and/or neglect and in general.
  • Alcohol abuse, related to child abuse and neglect and in general, is more likely to be reported for AI/AN families.
  • There has been a reported increase in overall cases of child abuse and/or neglect for AI/AN children.
  • AI/AN children appear to be more likely than White children to be placed in foster care.
  • AI/AN children currently appear less likely to be adopted compared to White children. This positive finding, reported by CWLA (1999), may be due to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA).
  • Analysis of the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) data found
    higher rates of public assistance among AI/AN families compared to Whites.
  • There appear, from the analysis of NCANDS data, to be significantly lower rates of sexual and physical abuse among non-Hispanic AI/AN children than among non-Hispanic White children.

    Violent Crime

  • American Indians experienced approximately 1 violent crime for every 8 residents age 12 or older compared to:
      • 1 for every 16 Black residents
      • 1 for every 20 white residents
      • 1 for every 34 Asian residents
  • Rates of violent victimization for both males and females are higher among American Indians than for all races.


Leads nation in deaths caused by:

      • cardiovascular disease
      • alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities
      • chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
      • diabetes (infections/amputations/health complications)
      • fetal abnormalities
      • Homicide