The Case of the Missing Ethnicity: Tribal Non-Response among Multiracial American Indians

Carolyn A. Liebler, University of Minnesota
Meghan Zacher, University of Minnesota

Among American Indians, most aspects of ethnicity are tightly associated with the person’s tribal origins. Language, history, foods, land, and traditions differ among the hundreds of tribes indigenous to the United States. Why did almost one million American Indians fail to respond to the tribal affiliation part of the Census 2000 race question? We investigate several possibilities, including: mestizo identity which does not require a tribe, survey non-response which undermines all fill-in-the-blank questions, and an American Indian identity that is based only on (incomplete) genealogical research. We test hypotheses about single-race and multiple-race American Indians using multivariate logistic regression models and high density restricted-use Census 2000 data. This research highlights diversity in the racial and ethnic identities of today’s indigenous Americans. We conclude by discussing implications for other groups who are increasingly multiracial and may be becoming more internally varied in terms of members’ strength of ethnic attachments.

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Presented in Poster Session 6