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The Displacement and Dissipation of Native American Populations

The population of Native Americans in the United States began to dissipate as settlers continued to move west, displacing the indigenous populations and reducing the size of their territory. In this exercise, you are going to map the shrinking population of Native Americans from 1860 to 1890. (It should be noted that there are some discrepancies in the data over the years due to the ways in which Native American populations were tabulated at various times throughout history.)


  1. Look at this map of the 1860 Census.
  2. The category is set by default to Population. You are going to be looking at the category of Race for this exercise, so change the second drop-down menu to Race.
  3. From the third drop-down menu, select the variable % American Indian (Enumerated Indians Only).
  4. Save this map to the first slide of the slideshow tool by clicking on an empty slide box below the map view.
  5. To look at the following census year, 1870, change the first map drop-down menu to the 1870 Census.
  6. Save this map to the second slide of the slideshow tool.
  7. Follow the same steps for the years 1880 and 1890. Save each map to the slideshow tool.
  8. To start the slideshow, click the Play button in the right-hand side of the slideshow bar. You can slow down or speed up the slide show by moving the tab backward or forward on the speed bar. You can also get a closer look at any map by using the zoom tools.
  9. To look at the Native American population today, change the first drop-down menu to Census 2000, and change the third drop-down menu to % American Indian and Alaska Native.

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