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State humanities councils and indigenous peoples

May 14, 2013 | By Kathleen Mitchell, Senior Program Officer, Federal/State Partnership

“How can we model the behavior we seek to inspire?” An On-going Series

Migration and Immigration

"How can we model the behavior we seek to inspire? Do our boards, staff and volunteers reflect the diversity of the communities we serve? How can we be more inclusive?”

In the January 2013 newsletterFederal/State Partnership announced that each issue of the newsletter through October will address issues raised by the theme of the November 2013 Federation of State Humanities Councils conference in Birmingham, Alabama. The primary source for these surveys is the contextual section of councils' self-assessment report. We will use examples from all 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils in this series. This article first appeared in the May 2013 newsletter. Links to all the articles will be attached to the lead article to the series as they appear in the newsletter. Each will also be posted as a separate article in the Resource Library.

A printable pdf of this article is attached.

The four largest states—California, Texas, New York, and Florida—experience the largest number of people moving to them from other states. California, Texas, and Florida each welcomed more than half a million Americans on the move in 2011, as estimated by the Census Bureau.[1] Under 300,000 moved to New York from other states that year. Florida, with almost 3%, had the highest state-to-state migration of the four; California’s was a little over 1%.

Nonetheless, more Americans stay put than move and all four of these states had more population stability than one might have imagined. In all four, 99% of the population had been in the state in the prior year and 82% to 87% lived in the same house. There were differences, though. In Florida only 83% were still in the same house, whereas in New York, 88% were. Current U.S. migration patterns include shifting generational distribution as well as people moving within states, often from the country to the city.

The 2010 census indicates that 40 million people, 13% of the U.S. population, are foreign born. Most come from Latin America and the Caribbean (53%), followed by Asia (28%). As you will see from the examples of the councils in Florida, Kansas, California, New Hampshire, Guam, and Puerto Rico, many of the states and jurisdictions are home to immigrants from many countries and language groups. Puerto Ricans play a key role by moving into the continental U.S.

A challenge for councils is how to keep pace with the changing populations they are designed to serve. How do they listen to, learn from, and engage with the people who make up the diverse demographics of their constituents? what kinds of people are in these diverse constituencies? how can a constituency be transformed into an audience? how far can or should a desire to be inclusive go? can a council actually be bottom up rather than top down?

  • Florida: In a brief span of seven decades, Florida has grown from the smallest state in the South to the fourth-largest state in America. At some point in 2013, its population will grow to more than 20 million, likely replacing New York as the third  largest state. A century ago, Florida was a frontier state, its 500,000 residents largely African American and WASP. Not including its one million “snowbirds,” it is now one of the most ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse states—so diverse, in fact, that one could ask whether it is the southernmost state or the northernmost province of the Caribbean. The Latinization of Florida has been well underway  for decades, leaving almost no county untouched. Asians, however, primarily from India, China, Korea, and the Philippines, now comprise Florida's fastest growing immigrant group.
  • Kansas: Kansas has a population of 2.8 million, ranking it 33rd in the nation, with no significant future growth projected. Nearly 50% of the population lives in 10 communities, all located in the eastern half of Kansas. The other half of the population is spread out, primarily in small towns. This shift in residence to eastern Kansas can be seen by comparing the locations of the state’s population between the 1890 and the 2010 census reports.[2] Many of the counties experiencing the largest decline in population are also experiencing an aging population. Kansas ranks 12th among states with the highest proportion of elderly people (13%). In response, there have been several recent efforts to attract more young people to stay or move to rural Kansas. The government is also providing economic incentives for rural growth.
  • California: The Public Policy Institute of California[3] predicts that the state’s population will grow from 37.3  million in 2010 to 47.7 million in 2040. Annual growth rates in California are expected to fluctuate between 0.9% and 0.8% until 2035.  In 2011, 27% of California’s population was foreign-born, twice the U.S. percentage. Although immigration to California has slowed, the state has more immigrants than any other state. Most immigrants in California come from Latin America, but recent arrivals are primarily from Asia. California also has sizeable populations of immigrants from dozens of countries; Mexico (4.3 million), the Philippines (812,000), and China (760,700) are the leading countries of origin. More than half (53%) of those arriving in the state between 2007 and 2011 were born in Asia; only 31% came from Latin America.
  • New Hampshire: Although only 6% of New Hampshire’s population is non-white, it is not exactly “homegrown.” Only 56% were born there and the face of the state is changing. Recent immigrants and refugees are moving into New Hampshire’s cities from such countries as Kosovo, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Iraq, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Pakistan, and India. The largest immigrant group is refugees from Bhutan. Throughout America’s history, waves of immigration have prompted waves of resentment, fear, and anger. That remains true in New Hampshire. Homes of refugees have been vandalized by graffiti and the mayor of Manchester called for a halt to refugee resettlement. Communities, however, have developed support systems for immigrants through the collaboration of local institutions. The state legislature has defeated a dozen different anti-immigrant bills in the past few years.
  • Guam: Throughout post-World War II development, Cold War politics, and the more recent conflicts in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, Guam has been and remains a focal point for the movement of military personnel, technology, and supplies. There are presently three scenarios for military expansion over the coming years, but it is unclear what plan might be followed. Indigenous Chamorros remain the largest ethnic group, about 47% of the total 2010 population of 159,358. The Filipino population is estimated at 25%. Approximately 23,000 residents are military (14%). Guam’s population has grown rapidly over the last two decades with increased migration from the United States, Asia, and Pacific islands. It has a burgeoning tourist industry and has evolved into a multi-ethnic, urban society. Although most residents of Guam are bilingual, English is the common language.
  • Puerto Rico: The size of Puerto Rico’s population has been, and continues to be, a variable of great importance. Puerto Rico experienced continuous population growth during the past century. However, that trend is reversing as the population has decreased by a half million people in the most recent census data and is projected to continue falling. The population in 2010 was 3.7 million. The population density of Puerto Rico is 1,088 per square mile. The city of San Juan is the most densely populated, with almost 14,000 people living in each square mile. Puerto Rico is also noted for its out-migration. According to a 2009 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center,[4] the “Hispanic population of Puerto Rican origin in the 50 states and D.C. increased from 3.4 million in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2010. It now surpasses Puerto Rico’s population. Nearly a third of Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin in the 50 states and D.C. were born in Puerto Rico.”

[1] For more census data about state-to-state migration, see