Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

The proportion of the population made up of Native American children is growing in the Rapid City metro area.
The proportion of the population made up of Native American children is growing in the Rapid City metro area.
Black Hills Knowledge Network chart
February 24, 2015

Native American Youth Population Growing In Rapid City Metro Area

Children and youth are more likely than adults to be of American Indian descent in the Rapid City metropolitan area (Custer, Meade and Pennington counties). Nearly one in six people under the age of 18 is Native American, compared to one in ten adults, according to federal data analyzed by the Black Hills Knowledge Network as part of our Native Data Series.

Dashboard.raceseries.logo3In fact, while the overall population of children and youth is declining as share of the general population, the proportion of Native Americans in the 19 and younger population continues to grow. Between 2010 and 2013, Native American youth increased their share of the population of children and youth from 6.8 percent in 2010 to 8.8 percent in 2013 in Custer County, 3.6 percent to 4.8 percent in Meade County, and 15.5 percent to 16 percent in Pennington County. Overall, according to Census estimates, there were just under 5,000 American Indian children and youth living in the Rapid City metropolitan area in 2013.

The increasing share of Native children is likely to raise challenges for their families and the community. As American Indian children account for a growing share of the overall population of children and youth in the Rapid City metropolitan area, disparities between the Native and Non-Native populations may have an increasing impact on the overall population of children and youth in the Rapid City area. A number of sources haverecently highlighted disparities between Native and Non-Native children in the Rapid City area and in South Dakota.

Infant Mortality

The infant mortality rate in the area served by Regional Health, which includes Rapid City, was 71 percent higher for Native versus Non-Native children. According to statistics compiled for Regional’s Community Health Needs Assessment report, non-Hispanic whites suffered 7.4 deaths before their first birthday per 1,000 babies, compared to 12.7 deaths for Native American babies between 2006 and 2010.

Low Birth Weight

Low birth weights can be a factor in infant mortality. Fortunately, the disaparity between low birth weights between Native and Non-Native children is modest. Between 2009 and 2013 in South Dakota as a whole, babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds accounted for 6.3 percent (3,778 total) of all live births. Among white babies born between 2009 and 2013 in South Dakota, 6 percent (2,739 of 45,739) were low birth weight.

Child Deaths

Between 2009 and 2013, 191 children died in South Dakota for a rate of 24.1 per 100,000 children between the ages 1-14. For American Indian children in this period, the death rate was significantly higher than for white children. There were 120 child deaths among white children, for a rate of 19.4 per 100,000 children ages 1-14, compared to 60 child deaths, or 53.2 per 100,000 children, for American Indian children.

Teen Violent Deaths

American Indian youth were also more vulnerable than whites. Between 2009 and 2013, the violent death rate for American Indian teens age 15 to 19 in South Dakota was significantly higher than for white teens age 15 to 19 between 2009 and 2013 in South Dakota. Of all white teens ages 15-19, there were 47.1 teen violent deaths per 100,000 (total 111), compared to 179.8 per 100,000 (total 62) in the American Indian population.

About The Series

The Black Hills Knowledge Network's Native Data Series examines what the available data shows about Native Americans living in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. As the state's and region's largest racial minority, the data often shows distinct differences from the white majority in some categories, while in other categories the data shows close similarities. This series seeks to examine both situations so we all can better understand, respond to and plan for decisions that would affect Natives and non-Natives alike.


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