American Indian ethnic identity: Tribal nonresponse in the 1990 census

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Objectives. About 11 percent of American Indians did not report their tribal affiliation on the 1990 U.S. Census form. I use several theoretical perspectives as tools to explore the reasons behind this surprising omission. Method. Logistic regression analysis is the method employed. Results. American Indians living with someone who speaks an American Indian language are very likely to report a tribal affiliation, as are those living in "Indian states" (states with historically high numbers of American Indians). Those who are least likely to report a tribal affiliation are Hispanic women with low education who report no American Indian ancestry, do not live with other American Indians, and live in a metropolitan area of a "non-Indian state." Conclusions. Lack of knowledge of family history appears to be one of the primary causes of tribal nonresponse. Salience of tribal identity also affects responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-323
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004


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