Native Americans

Hilary N. Weaver

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Native Americans

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Native Americans are the descendants of the original inhabitants of what has become the United States. As indigenous peoples who retain vestiges of sovereignty, they are not the equivalent of other ethnic or cultural groups; thus, some laws and social policies apply only and specifically to this population. Readers should be aware that the definition of “Native American” used by one source may not be applicable to another. Each Native American nation (or tribe) has the ability to determine criteria for membership in that nation. Some native nations are not recognized by the federal government; thus, their members may not be acknowledged as meeting the definition of Native American for purposes of programs such as the Indian Child Welfare Act. In some cases, states have extended recognition to native nations within their boundaries that do not have federal recognition and have extended state laws and policies to cover these groups. There are approximately 5.2 million Native Americans in the United States, representing 1.7 percent of the population. Slightly more than half these people list their race as only American Indian or Alaska Native, while the remainder report being another race in addition to being American Indian or Alaska Native. There are currently more than 560 federally recognized tribes within the United States. The largest Native American nations are the Cherokee (819,105) and the Navajo (332,129) (See Norris, et al. 2012, cited in Introductory Works).

Article.  9384 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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