Monday, July 25, 2011

More Hispanics Describing Themselves as Native Americans

Photo Credit: U. of Md. Press Releases
From The New York Times:
"When Fernando Meza is asked about his identity, “I tell them that I am Indian,” said Mr. Meza, a parade participant from the Tlaxcala tribe. “They say, ‘But you’re Mexican.’ And I say, ‘But I’m Indian.’ ”

Mr. Meza represents one of the changes to emerge from the 2010 census, which showed an explosion in respondents of Hispanic descent who also identified themselves as American Indians.

Seventy percent of the 57,000 American Indians living in New York City are of Hispanic origin, according to census figures. That is 40,000 American Indians from Latin America — up 70 percent from a decade ago.

The trend is part of a demographic growth taking place nationwide of Hispanics using “American Indian” to identify their race. The number of Amerindians — a blanket term for indigenous people of the Americas, North and South — who also identify themselves as Hispanic has tripled since 2000, to 1.2 million from 400,000.

“There has been an actual and dramatic increase of Amerindian immigration from Latin America,” said José C. Moya, a professor of Latin American history at Barnard College.

Dr. Moya attributes the increase to shifting patterns of immigration to the United States over the last two decades, from regions with larger indigenous populations, like southern Mexico and Central America, instead of northern Mexico.

Half of all Hispanics who moved to New York over the last 10 years were Mexican, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Most of them come from southern Mexico.

The pattern started in 1994 with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which opened the American-Mexican border to more economic activity. To encourage foreign investment in Mexico, its government started to strip Indian landowners of a long-held legal protection from privatization. The resulting conflict awakened ethnic tensions that dated back centuries, and spurred a populist support of indigenous heritage."
To read the complete article please click here.

(h/t to Racialicious for the link)

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