This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hispanics Now Outnumber Native Americans in Oklahoma

This really is one of those "only in America" stories. How is it possible that any minority group could outnumber Native Americans in a state whose history is bound up with Native Americans. Yet, that is the tale told by the 2010 census--there are more Latinos in Oklahoma than there Native Americans.

While Oklahoma is likely to maintain the nation's largest per capita population of Native Americans, their numbers are not growing nearly as rapidly as the booming Hispanic population.
Over the past decade, the number of Hispanics has nearly doubled from 179,304 in 2000 to 332,007 in 2010. Hispanics now account for 9 percent of the state's 3.75 million residents, compared to 8.5 percent for Native Americans.
"I suspect that Native Americans took a little bit of pride in being the largest minority population," said state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi tribe. "Now it's the Hispanic population that can now take that pride."
A very interesting part of this story is that Oklahoma, like Arizona, has been actively discouraging Hispanics from living in the state.
Keith Gaddie, a professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma, said the figures show some public policy efforts to curtail illegal immigration may not be having an impact on Hispanic immigration.
House Bill 1804, an anti-illegal immigration bill enacted in 2007, makes it illegal to knowingly transport illegal immigrants, creates state barriers to hiring illegal immigrants and requires proof of citizenship before one can get certain government benefits. The law is being challenged in federal court.
"For folks who thought HB 1804 would lead to an exodus of Hispanics from the state of Oklahoma, that doesn't appear to have happened," Gaddie said.
And, of course, the larger Hispanic population will have implications for Congressional and legislative redistricting. That process will consume the news over the next several months.

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