Urban Indian Population

The 2010 Census Bureau reports that 56,010 people who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native alone live in Colorado; 46,395 of whom live in urban areas, mostly in the Denver metro and Colorado Springs areas. The 2010 Census Bureau also shows there are 104,464 people who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races living in Colorado. These population numbers are up 35.3 percent since the 2000 Census, and the growing trend is expected to continue. In Colorado, the largest tribal group is Lakota, and the largest growing tribe is Navajo Nation.

During World War II and the years immediately after the war, American Indians from rural areas, particularly from reservations, moved to cities in search of better opportunities. Selected as one of the initial destination cities for the relocation and employment assistance programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Denver became a hub for American Indian migrants. Although the federal government hoped to assimilate Indian relocatees by distancing them from reservation communities, the Denver American Indians created an urban Indian community to support themselves and showed little interest in losing their tribal or Indian identities.

With Denver’s central location between the desert tribes of the southwest and the plains tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, the metropolitan area has become a hub for Indian Country. These descendants of the Cheyenne, Lakota, Kiowa, Navajo, and at least 200 tribal nations are an integral part of the city’s social and economic life. Despite their diversity, they are a tight-knit group, sharing the same strong commitment to family and cultural survival.

For more information about American Indian/Alaska Native population statistics, check out the 2010 Census Bureau American Indian and Alaska Native Population Brief.

Strongholds of Denver


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