Health Disparities

Native Americans have a greater chance of experiencing a variety of health issues that tend to compound one another and are further compounded by other issues such as poverty. For example, in the US, Native Americans have two* to three** times the rate of Diabetes 2 than the white population. Some believe this may relate to poorer Native Americans consuming a higher amount of less healthy food e.g., from fast food restaurants.

Poverty further compounds health issues in that Native Americans often cannot get appropriate health care simply because they cannot find transportation to the doctors office. Also, substandard housing conditions, all that many Native Americans can afford to rent, have rodents, plumbing issues, exposed wiring – problems that can spread disease or are immediate health hazards themselves.

In addition, Native Americans have a higher rate of drug and alcohol addiction which results in much higher incidents of death due to causes such as cirrhosis, accidents (unintended injury), suicide and homicide. Indeed, the average life expectancy of Native Americans in Minnesota is 44 years, compared to approximately 75 years for the white population. The much lower expectancy for Native American’s is due to significantly higher numbers of deaths due to violence and accidents – often direct results of drug and alcohol abuse.

* CDC, ** MN Dept. Health “Populations of Color in Minnesota: Health Status Report Fall 2003

Health of General Population

Infant Mortality: MN Native Pop. Avg 15.1%, MN White Pop. Avg: 5.1%
Life Expectancy: MN Native Pop. 44 years, MN White Pop. Avg: 75 years
Causes of Death in Minnesota: Native Americans Contrasted with Whites (Per 100,000 Population)

Cause of Death

Native Rates % Over Whites

Native Rates per 100,000 Pop.

White Rates per 100,000 Pop.

Homicide

88%

13.8

1.6

Cirrhosis

84%

38.4

6.4

Diabetes

75%

94.4

23.0

Unintended Injury

60%

81.7

33.9

Suicide

53%

19.1

9.1

Heart Diseases

25%

246.2

183.9

Cancers

20%

228.7

184.6

Population of Native Americans – Upper Midwest

The following table shows the State and Total populations of Native Americans living within a 700-mile radius of Minneapolis / the Twin Cities. Population numbers reflect on and off Reserve and Reservations with exception of Illinois which does not have a reservation land base.

Population of Native Americans Within 700 Miles of Minneapolis

Minnesota

54,967

North Dakota

31,329

South Dakota

62,282

Wisconsin

47,228

Michigan

58,479

Iowa

8,989

Illinois

31,006

Ontario, Canada

188,315

Manitoba, Canada

150,000

Total population: 632,595

Education Issues

While improvements to some Native American quality of life categories have been made over the last 20 years, education levels are still lagging behind the rest of Minnesota’s population. Unless otherwise noted, the figures below are taken from the 2000 Census data.

Education Statistics
College Graduates: Native Americans Avg: 8.8%, MN Population Avg: 27.4%
High School Graduates: Native Americans Avg. 74.5%, MN Population Avg: 87.9%