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America’s Forgotten Minority: Indigenous Youth Perspectives on the Challenges Related to Healthcare Access, Widespread Poverty and Public Misinformation Regarding Native Americans

Moreno, Marcos A.

Contrary to the beliefs of many Americans, Indigenous Peoples within the United States of America are not a relic confined to the colonial past or Western films. A look at recent history tells us that quite the opposite is true, as Native American populations have seen steady growth into the 21st century, with the most recent data accounting for over 3.7 million Indigenous Peoples, spread out among 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Every one of these federally recognized tribes operates as a Nation unto itself, sovereign groups that bear the rights of self-governance and self-determination. It is important to note that, though they share a common identity as Indigenous Peoples, each of these Nations is unique, all with their own histories, customs, cultures, and a wide variety of experiences both past and present.

Native Americans are the youngest racial demographic in the United States, with a median age of 28 years old; additionally, 34% of the total population of Indigenous Peoples in the United States are under the age of 18. Education opportunities have only recently become accessible to larger proportions of Native Americans. This suggests that younger generations are those more likely to be college-educated, allowing them to attain useful skills that they can then bring back to Native communities. While Native Americans are still vastly underrepresented in the world of higher education, there have been significant increases over the years in the number of these students at the undergraduate college level and beyond. As a result, many have used their education as a platform to raise awareness for Indigenous causes, as well as helping improve their Native communities.

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Global Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes

More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Published Here
October 28, 2019


This is a chapter from "Global Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at