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GCPD > Publications > Native Americans and Native Alaskans Native Americans and Native Alaskans

A fact sheet giving information about Native Americans and Native Alaskans with disabilities.

Native Americans and Native Alaskans

Native Americans and Native Alaskans comprise the smallest minority group in the United States, but they have the highest percentage of members with disabilities, compared with all other Americans.

Group No. Ages 15-64 No. w/ disability Percent w/ disability
Persons 15-64 years 169,370,000 31,139,000 18.4
Caucasian, not Hisp. 127,119,000 23,599,000 18.6
African American 20,863,000 4,188,000 20.1
Native American,
Eskimo, Aleut
1,270,000 329,000 25.9
Asian/Pacific Island 5,706,000 628,000 11.0
Hispanic origin 16,816,000 2,830,000 16.8

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division; data collected from October 1993 to January 1994. For more information contact Jack McNeil, (301)763-8300.

Native Americans have significant health problems that undermine the community. *

  • Alcoholism and suicide rates among Native Americans are significantly higher than in the majority population. Alcohol-related deaths occur four to five times more often among Native Americans than among all other races.
  • The death rate of Native Americans under age 45 is high, because of unintentional injuries, homicide, suicide, cirrhosis, pneumonia, and diabetes.

Many Native American languages do not have specific words for types of disabilities; in fact, acceptance of a disability is related to the concept of harmony within the individual.**
For example, the Yaqui language describes people with retardation or mobility impairment as “not completed,” but incompleteness is not considered unwellness if the condition is part of the person's harmony
(Locust, 1985)

* Source: Meeting the Unique Needs of Minorities with Disabilities: A Report to the President and Congress. The National Council on Disability, 1993.

** Source: Building Cultural Competence in the Disability Community: A Resource for Developmental Disabilities Councils. Tecla Jaskulski. National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils, 1993.