Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008

Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008 examines both the educational progress of American Indian/Alaska Native children and adults and challenges in their education. This report shows that over time more American Indian/Alaska Native students have gone on to college and that their attainment expectations have increased. Despite these gains, progress has been uneven and differences persist between American Indian/Alaska Native students and students of other racial/ethnic groups on key indicators of educational performance.

Demographic Overview:

In 2006, there were 4.5 million American Indians/Alaska Natives in the United States, representing 1.5 percent of the total U.S. population. 

In 2006, almost half (49 percent) of all American Indians/Alaska Natives alone, including those of Hispanic ethnicity, resided in western states. 

In 2003, there were more than 560 federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native tribes, with the largest tribes being Cherokee and Navajo. 

Since 1990, the median age of American Indians/Alaska Natives, including those of Hispanic ethnicity, increased by 5 years, from 26 to 31.

In 2006, the median age for the general population was 36 years.

In 2006, 27 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native individuals lived in poverty compared to 13 percent of the general population. At 36 percent, the American Indian/Alaska Native poverty rate was higher among families on reservations than among families in other American Indian/Alaska Native areas in 1999.

In 2005, the overall fertility rate for American Indian/Alaska Native women (ages 15 to 44 years) was 60 births per 1,000 women, which was lower than that for women in general (67 per 1,000); however, birth rates for young American Indian/Alaska Native women (ages 15 to 24 years) were higher than among young women overall (53 per 1,000 compared to 41 per 1,000 for 15- to 19-year-olds and 109 per 1,000 compared to 102 per 1,000 for 20- to 24- year-olds).

Infant and child mortality rates for American Indians/Alaska Natives were higher than those for all infants and children under age 20.

For example, the child mortality rate for 15- to 19-year-olds was higher for American Indians/Alaska Natives (94 per 100,000) than compared to the general population (65 per 100,000).