Census Bureau releases data on indigenous Latin American groups

A boy wearing a traditional Oaxcan costu


A child in traditional Oaxacan costume participates in a Guelaguetza festival in Los Angeles. The U.S. Census has begun to note that many Latinos in this country identify more by their indigenous groupings than by their countries or origin.

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its latest data on American Indians and Alaska Natives. For the first time, it includes detailed information on individual Central American, South American and Mexican American indigenous groups.

Central American Hispanics and Mexicans represented 71 percent of the total Hispanic population in the United States. Almost 5 million of them lived in L.A. County. But for many of them, identity rests on their indigenous heritage, not on their country of origin or language.

Groups like Mayans, Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Nahua-Pipil, and dozens of others make up a small but growing part of the Hispanic population in greater Los Angeles. It’s hard to pinpoint numbers, because these immigrants don't often identify as such; many still face discrimination from other Latinos.

That said, L.A. County is home to the second largest number of American Indians and Alaska Natives. That includes more than 1,500 tribal groupings from the Western Hemisphere.

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