Alaska News

Anchorage is Alaska's biggest Native 'village,' census shows

Anchorage is home to more Athabascans than Fairbanks, more Yup'ik than Bethel and more Inupiat than Barrow, the U.S. Census shows.

The city has long been known as "Alaska's biggest Native village." With new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau it can now claim, more specifically, to be home to both the largest Yup'ik and largest Inupiat communities.

According to information from the 2010 Census released on June 30, Anchorage has a Native American population of 23,130. That's about one in 13 residents.

Yup'ik remain the single largest Alaska Native group in the state, followed by Inupiat and Athabascans, the figures show.

The new numbers offer a closer look at where members of different Alaska Native groups live around the state. The previous Census, in 2000, made no distinction between Yup'ik, who have historically resided along the Bering Sea coast from the Alaska Peninsula to Norton Sound, and Inupiat, who occupy the coast north of Unalakleet and along the Arctic Ocean. In 2000, the two ethnic groups were lumped together as "Eskimo" and 5,607 were reported as living in Anchorage.

That changed with the 2010 Census.

In answering the survey, a respondent could identify himself or herself as belonging to a single tribe, as having two or more Native American tribes in their background, or in any combination with non-Native groups.


The following numbers of those reporting themselves to be members of a single tribe are given for Alaska in 2010:

• Yup'ik: 27,329

• Inupiat: 20,941

• Alaskan Athabascan: 12,318

• Tlingit-Haida: 8,547

• Aleut: 7,696

• Tsimshian: 1,449

In Anchorage, the count for Inupiat is 4,018, or double the number of self-described Inupiat in Barrow (1,989) or Kotzebue (1,752). The number of Yup'ik people living in Anchorage is 3,243; Bethel has 2,563.

There are 2,627 Athabascans in Anchorage; 1,272 in Fairbanks.

Some 2,475 Aleuts call Anchorage home, versus 1,299 in Kodiak. Juneau has more Tlingit-Haida (2,389) than Anchorage (1,291); Metlakatla's 973 Tsimshians far outnumber Anchorage's 126. The Tsimshian designation did not appear in the 2000 Census.

These are people identifying themselves as belonging to one tribe. The numbers increase by roughly 50 percent when those identifying themselves as a combination of one Alaska tribe and another Native or non-Native race are added.

One caveat is that these numbers are self-reported, submitted by the respondents themselves.

"To the degree that respondents change how they report their own race from one census to the next, there will be problems in comparison of the 2000 and 2010 data," said Alaska's State Demographer, Eddie Hunsinger.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.

Accessing the data Information from the 2010 Census can be found at the American FactFinder site at http// The documents on which this article is based are called "Race Reporting for the American Indian and Alaska Native Population by Selected Tribes: 2010" and "Race Alone or in Combination for Selected American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes: 2000."


Mike Dunham

Mike Dunham has been a reporter and editor at the ADN since 1994, mainly writing about culture, arts and Alaska history. He worked in radio for 20 years before switching to print.