“Report” with the economic marginalization of Native Americans

Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of talk about a national “calculation” on race. There can be no complete assessment without solid analysis and substantive action to combat the economic marginalization of Native Americans in the 21st century America.

Through years of intentional government policies that took away their lands and resources, American Indians were separated from the wealth and assets that were rightfully theirs. Today, we see a constant lack of information about Native Americans and their socio-economic problems.

Our organization, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, recently released a Native American Racial Wealth Divide Snapshot that examines data on socioeconomic indicators such as homeownership, poverty rates, and educational attainment among Native Americans. .

chart showing homeownership rates by race.

Source: National Coalition for Community Reinvestment.

According to the US Census Bureau, the homeownership rate for Native Americans in 2017 was 50.8%, which is higher than that of black and Latino populations, but still significantly lower than the homeownership rate. 72.3% non-Hispanic white ownership.

This rate of home ownership among Native Americans in 2017 was one of the lowest since the enactment of the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Scheme of the Housing and Community Development Act in 1992. This law allows Native Americans to buy homes with extremely low down payments and fully cover the lender. in case of foreclosure.

Prior to its passage, according to the 1990 census, Native American ownership was 47.2%. In 2005 and 2006, Native Americans experienced a record homeownership rate of 58.2%, but in 2016 that rate fell to 47.6%. Although the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program has apparently boosted homeownership among Native Americans, there is still much to be done to advance homeownership rates.

In several socioeconomic indicators, the economic marginalization of Native Americans is similar to that of African Americans. According to the 2015-2019 American Community Survey for the Native American and Alaska Native population, the median household income was $43,825, slightly higher than the median household income for African Americans, which was of $41,935.

White household income was about $25,000 higher than that of African Americans and Native Americans, at $68,785 during this period. In 2019, African Americans and Native Americans both had an unemployment rate of 6.1%. In terms of poverty rates and educational attainment, Native Americans have the worst numbers of the major racial/ethnic categories, with a poverty rate of 25.4% and only 15% of Native Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Tackling the racial wealth divide for Native Americans will require a step change in investments and policies of today, yesterday and tomorrow. As the data cited above shows, our country is still on the wrong track to address racial economic inequality. An important step in this shift in direction is having a clear analysis and commitment to addressing the racial economic disparities that are central to the founding of the nation and still flow through its veins in the 21st century. A fundamental part of this change is to collect more solid data on the Native American population and to focus more on solving the economic problems of the first peoples of our country.


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Nohemi M. Moore