Navajo Nation surpasses Cherokee as largest Native American tribe

Monument Valley is shown in Utah (Rick Bowmer/AP)
Monument Valley is shown in Utah (Rick Bowmer/AP) (AP)
9:02am, Wed 19 May 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

The Navajo Nation, which already has by far the largest land mass of any Native American tribe in the US now has the largest enrolled population, too.

Navajos clamoured to enrol or fix their records as the tribe offered hardship assistance payments from last year’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

That boosted the tribe’s rolls from about 306,000 to nearly 400,000 citizens.

The figure tops the Cherokee Nation’s enrolment of 392,000.

But it, too, has been growing, said tribal spokeswoman Julie Hubbard.

The Oklahoma tribe has been receiving about 200 more applications per month, leaving Navajo’s position at the top unstable.

The numbers matter because tribes often are allocated money based on their number of citizens.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez speaks during a live radio address (Mandel Ngan/AP) (AP)

Each of the 574 federally recognised tribes determines how to count its population.

Navajo, for example, requires a one-quarter blood quantum to enrol.

Cherokee primarily uses lineal descent.

Tribal governments received 4.8 billion US dollars from the Cares Act based on federal housing population data for tribes, which some said was badly skewed.

The Treasury Department recently revised the methodology and said it would correct the most substantial disparities.

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