Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
In the United States of America the sun first rises over the skies of Guam in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and awakens its indigenous people, the Chamorro. When the sun finally sets on U.S. territory, its last rays diminish as the horizon darkens over American Samoa in the Pacific Ocean, just on the other side of the International Date Line from Guam.
Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders include diverse populations that differ in geography, language, and culture. They are from Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian geographic locations and cultural backgrounds.
Guam was acquired as a spoil of war after the Spanish American War of 1898 and the Chamorro, native to the land, became Americans with no political voice in the matter. Similarly, Native Hawaiians, who have called the Hawaiian Islands home for almost 2,000 years, became Americans at the turn of the twentieth century without any declaration of war. The Islands became a U.S. protectorate after the Kingdom of Hawai'i was overthrown, principally by Americans. One fascinating reminder is 'Iolani Palace, the home and symbol of the former sovereign of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the only royal residence in the United States. In addition, other Pacific Islands such as the Federated States of Micronesia have long cultural histories and historic and strategic ties to the United States.
Genetic diversity within individual Pacific populations is shown to be very low, while differentiation among Melanesian groups is high. Melanesian differentiation varies not only between islands, but also by island size and topographical complexity. The greatest distinctions are among the isolated groups in large island interiors, which are also the most internally homogeneous. The pattern loosely tracks language distinctions. . Although the Polynesians are also distinctive, they tend to cluster with Micronesians, Taiwan Aborigines, and East Asians, and not Melanesians.
According to the 2010 Census, 1.2 million people in the United States identified as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, either alone or in combination with one or more other races. The 2010 Census showed that the U.S. population on April 1, 2010, was 308.7 million. Out of the total U.S. population, 540,000 people, or 0.2 percent, were Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone.
Among people who reported only one detailed Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander group and no other race group, Polynesians composed 60 percent, Micronesians composed 27 percent, Melanesians composed 5 percent, and Other Pacific Islanders composed 8 percent.
The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population was the race group most likely to report multiple races in 2010, as more than half (56 percent) reported multiple races. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population was one of the fastest-growing race groups between 2000 and 2010. The total U.S. population grew by 9.7 percent, from 281.4 million in 2000 to 308.7 million in 2010. In comparison, the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone population increased more than three times faster than the total U.S. population, growing by 35 percent from 399,000 to 540,000 people.
Data on race have been collected since the first U.S. decennial census in 1790. Starting in 1997, OMB required federal agencies to use a minimum of five race categories: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. For respondents unable to identify with any of these five race categories, OMB approved the Census Bureau’s inclusion of a sixth category — Some Other Race — on the Census 2000 and 2010 Census questionnaires. In Census 2000, the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population was classified separately from the Asian population.
Over half (52 percent) of the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone-or-in-combination population lived in just two states, Hawaii (356,000) and California (286,000). In addition to Hawaii and California, the states with the next largest NHPI populations in 2010 were Washington (70,000), Texas (48,000), Florida (40,000), Utah (37,000), New York (36,000), Nevada (33,000), Oregon (26,000), and Arizona (25,000). Together, these ten states represented over three-fourths (78 percent) of the entire NHPI population in the United States.
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