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Oklahoma estimates Indian population decrease

TULSA, Okla. - Estimates from the Oklahoma State Data Center project a decrease in the American Indian population in the state.

Since the 1990 Census, American Indian populations have only grown 1.9 percent, a much smaller increase than many tribal leaders throughout the state expected.

Jeff Wallace, center director, cautioned that the numbers recently released were only estimates. No actual census results will be available until March 2001.

"They're not 2000 census numbers. They do annual estimates by race and sex."

He said the 1.9 percent growth was the slowest of any of the race categories for the past 10 years and estimates are pointing toward a decrease in American Indian populations in Oklahoma, but until the final census has been counted, the numbers could change.

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A break out of populations shows an estimated 262,100 American Indians live in Oklahoma. The largest concentration are in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties, but every county in the state has at least American Indians living in them.

The ODC estimates 51,550 American Indians live in Tulsa and 48,370 live in Oklahoma City.

Although tribal leaders contacted were concerned about the decrease in numbers, they are waiting for the final census results.

Other estimates for the state peg the Hispanic population as the fastest growing population in the state.

These estimates, Wallace said, are proof that tribes and American Indian newspapers must continue to urge their readers to be counted by the census. "If everybody in the Indian community filled out their census forms we could have an accurate number."

American Indian and Alaska Native populations increased by 15 percent to make up 2.3 million of the U.S. population, U.S. Census Bureau early estimates indicate. California, Oklahoma, and Arizona show the largest Native presence.