The Alaska Native Population is on an Upward Trend

May 4, 2013

Researchers with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development recently released some new research about the over 120-thousand Alaska Native people that live in Alaska. Alaska Natives make up 17-percent of Alaska's population and the majority of them still live in small villages or remote, regional hub communities like Dillingham, Bethel, and Nome.

The Alaska Native population hit an estimated low of just over 25-thousand in 1910 but it's been growing ever since. Currently 8 boroughs or census areas in Alaska are made up by a population that is over 50-percent Alaska native. 6 of those area have a population that is over 75-percent Alaska Native. The 2010 Census showed there were over 30.8-thousand Alaska Natives of Yupik decent living in Alaska. 75-percent called western Alaska home with the majority of Yupik Alaskans living in the Bethel, Dillingham and Wade Hampton Census Areas. 16-percent live in the Anchorage area.

Inupiat people totaled about 26-thousand in the 2010 Census and they make up the majority of the household population in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic Borough's. The Athabascan population was 16.6-thousand and the Tlingit-Haida population was counted at over 13-thousand. The Aleut population was 11.2-thousand. 40-percent live in the Anchorage area.

The research from the Alaska Department of Labor shows that more Alaska Natives are living in the urban centers of Alaska. The percentage was 38-percent in 2000 but it increased up to 44-percent in the 2010 Census. While Alaska is the ancestral home about a fourth of those with Alaska Native origin live outside the state. 9-percent live in Washington State and 4-percent live in California.

The data shows that Alaska Natives have higher birth rates than non-Natives. On average Natives have a total fertility rate of more than 3. That compares to the rate of 2.5 for non-Natives. The fertility rate is the number of children per woman. The fertility rate in the Wade Hampton Census Area is 4 and the Department of Labor reports that several areas in western and northern Alaska have fertility rates above 3.5. The median age of Alaska Natives in the 2010 Census was 26.7. That's much younger than the median age of 33.8 for the state as a whole. The Department of Labor researchers observe that the population projections suggest the state's Native population will grow by 33-percent by 2035. That would equal an increase of about 40-thousand people. The researchers anticipate that the Alaska Native population will hit 150-thousand by 2030. The data about the Alaska Native population was included in the April edition of "Alaska Economic Trends".