Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

PSRC explores data on Tribal identification, homeownership and income

This month, PSRC delves into data on the region’s American Indian and Alaska Native population.

People with First Nations heritage in our region are very diverse, with over 50 Tribal groups represented.

About 7,800 of the region’s residents identify as Puget Sound Salish. The American Community Survey groups Tribes who have original homelands in the four-county region under the name Puget Sound Salish.

The region’s second most common Tribal grouping is Tlingit-Haida, who are Alaska Native peoples.

PSRC celebrates the diverse, rich cultures of people with American Indian and Alaska Native heritage. We also recognize the suffering that members of these groups have experienced in the past and continue to endure due to historical policies and practices.

Economic inequities persist for American Indian and Alaska Native residents. Regionwide, about 17% of this population lives below the poverty level, as opposed to 7% of whites.

They also have lower incomes. The largest disparity is in King County, where their median household income is $52,000. Whites in King County have a median income of $101,000.

American Indian and Alaska Native people also experience inequity in home ownership rates. About half of American Indian and Alaska Natives own their homes (49%), compared with two-thirds of whites (66%). King County has the widest disparity, with 37% of American Indian and Alaska Natives who are homeowners versus 63% of whites.

This data doesn’t easily reveal the varied experiences different ethnic groups within the American Indian and Alaska Native community have in the region and how it shapes where they live, the opportunities they can access and the trajectory of their lives.

However, it does highlight the need to address the unique barriers these communities face that depress their incomes and disproportionately push them into poverty.

PSRC is working to advance opportunities for people of American Indian and Alaska Native heritage through its new Equity Advisory Committee. The group will help develop a Regional Equity Strategy and advise PSRC on policies and programs with an equity lens. The committee next meets on December 2.