American Indian population increases in Minnesota and nationally, climate crisis in Indian Country, and more

In this blog:

  • U.S. Census: American Indian/Alaska Native population increased in the past decade
  • Indian Country Today: Climate crisis in Indian Country
  • MPR: St. Benedict nuns apologize for Native boarding school
  • The Conversation: Indigenous land defenders get much more police scrutiny than right-wing protesters
  • Registration open for 2021 Overcoming Racism Conference

American Indian/Alaska Native population appears to have grown significantly in the past decade

The number of people in this country self identifying as American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) alone was 3.7 million, or 1.1 percent of the U.S. population in 2020, according to data released today by the U.S. Census. That’s a 27 percent increase from the 2010 Census, which counted 2.9 million AI/AN residents.

In addition, 5.9 million people identified as AI/NA and another race group in 2020, such as White or Black or African American. Together, the AI/NA alone or in combination with another race or races make up 2.9 percent of the U.S. population, or 9.7 million people. That’s an 85 percent increase since 2010.

This estimated population growth comes with a caveat. Each decade, the Census changes how it collects and codes data to improve the count. For instance, this year people had the option to self identify using up to 200 characters instead of the previous 30 characters. This might might have allowed for increased participation for those who have multiple racial identities.

Also, the 2020 Census coincided with the pandemic, which could have led to an under count. Some reservation were on lock down. At a media briefing today, Census officials discussed a number of measures they took to avoid an under count in Indian Country. For instance, they consulted with Tribal communities about their unique circumstances, hired 55 tribal partners for outreach, did phone outreach, and hired Native American census takers to work in their own communities.

The biggest increases in American Indian/Alaska Native populations, including those AI/AN residents who are biracial or multiracial, occurred in the eastern states, led by Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. Census analysts are still looking into the reasons for these changes. (These Midwestern and Southern are state have relatively small AI/AN populations to begin with, so small increases in numbers lead to larger percentage increases.)

In Minnesota:

  • 68,641 people identified as AI/AN alone, or 1.2 percent of the state’s population )just a tick above the national average of 1.1 percent).
  • 89,010 people identified as biracial or multiracial, including AI/AN, or 1.6 percent of the state’s population.
  • 157,651 people identified as AI/AN alone or biracial or multiracial including AI/AN, or 2.8 percent of the state’s population.

For more on the Census’ race and ethnicity data, click here.

Climate crisis in Indian Country

“[T]ens of thousands of tribal citizens across Indian Country [are being] forced to choose between staying in their ancestral lands or moving out to protect themselves from the devastation wreaked by climate change,” according to the Indian Country Today article: Homelands in Peril.

The details of the story differ on where people live. Flooding, rising sea levels, increasingly powerful hurricanes, droughts, lower water tables, wildfires and loss of habitat are forcing more and more people to move.

And migration has already begun, with at least a half-dozen tribal communities formally deciding to relocate to higher ground.

Indian Country Today

For the full article, click here.

St. Benedict’s nun’s apologize for Native boarding schools

The prioress of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph sent a two-page letter earlier this year to the White Earth Nation, “apologizing for the religious order’s role in the boarding school located there for decades,” MPR reported.

“A tribal official said it was one of the first direct apologies from a religious order to a tribal nation in the United States,” the story said.

Benedictine Sister Pat Kennedy called the apology “only a beginning.” “‘It’s easy to say I’m sorry, but it’s more challenging for me to say, I will do this,’ said Kennedy, the monastery’s heritage coordinator.”

As a first step, the monastery is opening its archive to White Earth researchers “seeking information about former students.”

Click here for the full story.

Indigenous land defenders get more police scrutiny than right-wing movements

Check out The Conversation’s article: Intense police surveillance for Indigenous land defenders contrasts with a laissez-faire stance for anti-vax protesters.

The story is based in Canada but will ring true for Line 3 water protectors.

Among other things, it discusses how police surveillance shapes public opinion. Surveillance “invariably constructs an image of deviance and criminality, characterizing the subjects of surveillance as threats to public order and civic values,” the story said. “For example, police have characterized Indigenous land defenders as “extremists” and have used national security resources to amplify and distort land claims conflicts as security threats.”

The story introduces a new term being used to describe law enforcement’s tactics with water protectors and land defenders: “Strategic incapacitation.”

Over the past 20 years, protest policing tools have experienced a significant professionalization and standardization that rely on surveillance for pre-emptive interventions. Some scholars have named this police-management approach as strategic incapacitation.

The Conversation

Register for the annual (and online) Overcoming Racism Conference

The Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative (FREC) is holding its annual Overcoming Racism Conference on Friday-Saturday, Nov. 12-13. This year’s theme is: “The Fierce Urgency For Transformation Now!”

Registration is now open. Click here. Registration is free for Indigenous people.

The keynote speaker Friday will be Ruth Buffalo, a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. She is originally from Mandaree. She has served in various capacities focused on building healthy and safe communities. She was elected into the North Dakota House of Representatives in 2018 and represents south Fargo.

Other featured speakers include:

  • Anisa Omar, a graduate from Minnesota State University Mankato and Governor-appointed Cabinet Member for the Young Women’s Initiative where she is provided the opportunity to assist in creating policy changes that centers BIPOC.
  • Jim Bear Jacobs, a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation located in Central Wisconsin. He lives in St. Paul and is the co-founder of Healing Minnesota Stories. He also is the Director of Community Engagement and Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches.
  • Lex Scott, the Founder of Black Lives Matter Utah and the United Front Civil Rights Organization. She is the founder of the Utah Black History Museum and has been recognized nationally for her civil rights work.

Click on the link above from more information.

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