Pacific Islander Americans

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Pacific Islander Americans
Total population
1,586,463 alone or in combination
0.5% of the total U.S. population (2020 Census) [1]
Regions with significant populations
American Samoa, Guam,
Northern Mariana Islands,
California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, New York,
Texas, Utah, Florida, Iowa
Languages
American English, Oceanic languages
Religion
Christianity, Polytheism, Baháʼí, Judaism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Confucianism
Related ethnic groups
Pacific Islanders

Pacific Islander Americans (also known as Oceanian Americans ) are Americans who are of Pacific Islander ancestry (or are descendants of the indigenous peoples of Oceania or of Austronesian descent). For its purposes, the United States census also counts Aboriginal Australians as part of this group. [2] [3]

Contents

Pacific Islander Americans make up 0.5% of the U.S. population including those with partial Pacific Islander ancestry, enumerating about 1.4 million people. The largest ethnic subgroups of Pacific Islander Americans are Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Chamorros, Fijians, Marshalleses, Tongans, and Tahitians.

American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands are insular areas (U.S. territories), while Hawaii is a state.

History

First stage: Hawaiian migration (18th-19th centuries)

Gabriel Franchere's 1813 sketch of Fort Astoria. Franchere fort astoria 1813.jpg
Gabriel Franchère's 1813 sketch of Fort Astoria.

Migration from Oceania to the United States began in the last decade of the 18th century, but the first migrants to arrive in the country were natives of Hawaii. People from other Oceanian backgrounds (except Australians and Māori) did not migrate to the United States until the late 19th century. The first Native Hawaiians to live in the present-day United States were fur traders. They were hired by British fur traders in Hawaii and taken to the northwestern United States, from where trade networks developed with Honolulu. However, they charged less than Americans for doing the same jobs and returned to Hawaii when their contracts ended. The first Native Hawaiians to live permanently in the United States settled in the Astoria colony (in present-day Oregon) in 1811, having been brought there by its founder, fur merchant John Jacob Astor. Astor created the Pacific Fur Company in the colony and used the Native Hawaiians to build the city's infrastructure and houses and to develop the primary sector (agriculture, hunting and fishing). The labor employment of the Native Hawaiians was done to make them serve the company (although later, most of them worked for North West Company when this company absorbed the Pacific Fur Company in 1813).

After 1813, Native Hawaiians continued to migrate to the Pacific Northwest. They migrated to work in companies such as the Hudson's Bay Company (which absorbed the North West Company in 1821) and the Columbia Fishing and Trading Company, as well as in Christian missions. [4] Since 1819, some groups of Polynesian Protestant students immigrated to the United States to study theology. [5] Since the 1830s, another group of Native Hawaiians arrived on California's shores, [5] [4] where they were traders and formed communities. So, they made up 10% of the population of Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, in 1847. During the California Gold Rush, many other Native Hawaiians migrated to California to work as miners. [4]

In 1889, the first Polynesian Mormon colony was founded in Utah and consisted of Native Hawaiians, Tahitians, Samoans, and Māori. [5] Also in the late 19th century, small groups of Pacific Islanders, usually sailors, moved to the western shores, mainly on San Francisco. [6] Later, the U.S. occupied Hawaii in 1896, Guam in 1898, and American Samoa in 1900. [7] This fact diversified Oceanian emigration in the United States.

Second stage (20th-21st centuries)

However, the first record of non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders in the United States is from 1910, [4] with the first Guamanians living in the United States. In the following decades small groups of people from islands such as Hawaii, Guam, [6] Tonga, or American Samoa emigrated to the United States. Many of them were Mormons (including most of Tongans and American Samoans), [8] [9] who emigrated to help build Mormon churches, [8] or to seek an education, either in Laie [9] or Salt Lake City. [10] However, the emigration of Pacific Islanders to the U.S. was small until the end of World War II, [4] when many American Samoans, [11] Guamanians (who got the American citizenship in 1929), [9] and Tongans emigrated to the United States. Most of them were in the military or married with military people, [6] but some Pacific Islanders, particularly Tongans, looked for a job in several religious and cultural centers. Since then the emigration increased and diversified every decade, with a majority emigrating to the Western urban areas and Hawaii. [4]

This increase and diversification in the Oceanian emigration was especially true in the 1950s. In 1950, the population of Guam gained full American citizenship. [8] In 1952, the natives of American Samoa become American nationals, although not American citizens, through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. [12] Shortly thereafter, the first major waves of migration from American Samoa [13] [11] and Guam [14] emerged, while other groups of places such as French Polynesia, Palau, or Fiji began to emigrate. Over 5,100 Pacific Islanders emigrated to the United States in the 1950s, mostly from American Samoa, Guam, and Tonga. [15] The first of them were Samoan military personnel, who had worked at the American bases of Pago Pago but moved to the Honolulu's American bases when American Samoa began to be administered by the United States Department of the Interior, as well as their relatives. [16] [8] Most of the new Pacific Islander immigrants were Mormons [15] and many islanders from the region emigrated to the United States seeking economic opportunities.

In 1959, Hawaii became a state [17] and its natives got U.S. citizenship. This made more than 630,000 people Americans; [18] many of them were Pacific Islanders, both Native Hawaiians and people of other Oceanian origins. Thus, the Hawaiian migration to the continental U.S. began to increase. In the 1960s, many more Pacific Islanders emigrated to the U.S., mainly due to increased migration from Guam, [19] Fiji, Tonga, [10] [20] and Samoa archipelago (both independent and American Samoa [9] ). [21] The Pacific Islanders migrated by diverse reasons: Many Guamanians fled the Korean War and Typhoon Karen, [19] and the Fijian population living in the U.S. skyrocketed from a few dozen people in the 1950s to more than 400 people. The Pacific Islander migration increased especially since 1965, [10] [9] [20] when the United States government facilitated the non-European migration to the U.S. [10] Many of them were recruited to pick fruit in California. [19]

During the 1970s, over nine thousand Pacific Islanders migrated to the U.S., mostly from Samoa [13] (both Western and American [22] ), Guam, Tonga, and Fiji, but also from other islands such as Federated States of Micronesia or Palau. Many of these people emigrated to the U.S. to study at its universities. [23] Moreover, in the 1980s, migration from the Pacific Islands to the United States became more diversified when this country acquired the Northern Marianas Islands in 1986 [24] and signed an agreement with TTPI (FSM, Palau and the Marshall Islands) called the Compact of Free Association. The Compact of Free Association allows the inhabitants from TTPI to travel and work in the United States without visas. [note 1] On the other hand, the Tyson Foods company, which employed a significant part of the population of the Marshall Islands, relocated many of its Marshellese employees in Springdale, Arkansas, where the company is based. [25] However, most of Pacific Islanders continued to migrate to western urban areas and Hawaii. [4] More of five thousand Pacific Islanders migrated to the United States in the 1990s, settling mostly in western cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or Salt Lake City. [4] In the 2000 United States census, almost all the countries of Oceania were mentioned, although only the ethnic groups mentioned in the article consisted of thousands of people. [26] In the 2000s and 2010s, several thousands more Pacific Islanders emigrated to the United States.

Population

Demography

In the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the term "Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander" refers to people having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Marshalls or other Pacific Islands. Most of the Pacific Islander Americans are of Native Hawaiian, Samoan, and Chamorro origin.

The fact that Hawaii is a U.S. state (meaning that almost the entire native Hawaiian population lives in the U.S.), as well as the migration, high birth rate and miscegenation of the Pacific Islanders have favored the permanence and increase of this population in the U.S. (especially in the number of people who are of partial Pacific Islander descent). In the 2000 census, over 800,000 people claimed to be of Pacific Islander descent and in the 2010 census 1,225,195 Americans claimed "'Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander'" as their race alone or in combination. Most of them live in urban areas of Hawaii and California, but they also have sizeable populations in Washington, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and New York. On the other hand, Pacific Islander Americans represent the majority (or are the main ethnic group) in American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, from where many of them are natives.

Areas of origin

Melanesian Americans

Melanesian Americans are Americans of Melanesian descent.

Most of them are of Fijian descent. Most of Fijian Americans are of Fijian and Indian descent. More than 32,000 people of Fijian origin live in the U.S. Most of them live in California.

Smaller communities of Papuan, Vanuatuan, and Solomon Islander origin also live in the U.S.

Micronesian Americans

Micronesian Americans are Americans of Micronesian descent or are Americans whose origins are in the Federated States of Micronesia.

There are more than 8,000 people living in the U.S. whose origins are in the Federated States of Micronesia. Most of them live in Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Texas, as well as in Mariana Islands. Another 7,000 Americans are of Palauan descent.

According to the 2010 census, the largest Chamorro populations were located in California, Washington, and Texas, but their combined number from these three states totaled less than half the number living throughout the U.S. It also revealed that the Chamorro people are the most geographically dispersed Oceanian ethnicity in the country. [27]

Marshallese Americans or Marshallese come from the Marshall Islands. In the 2010 census, 22,434 Americans identified as being of Marshallese descent.

Because of the Marshall Islands entering the Compact of Free Association in 1986, Marshallese have been allowed to migrate and work in the United States. There are many reasons why Marshallese came to the United States. Some Marshallese came for educational opportunities, particularly for their children. Others sought work or better health care than what is available in the islands. Massive layoffs by the Marshallese government in 2000 led to a second big wave of immigration.

Arkansas has the largest Marshallese population with over 6,000 residents. Many live in Springdale, and the Marshallese comprise over 5% of the city's population. Other significant Marshallese populations include Spokane and Costa Mesa.

Smaller communities of I-Kiribati and Nauruan origins also live in the U.S.

Polynesian Americans

Polynesian Americans are Americans of Polynesian descent.

Large subcategories of Polynesian Americans include Native Hawaiians and Samoan Americans. In addition there are smaller communities of Tongan Americans, French Polynesian Americans, and Māori Americans.

A Samoan American is an American who is of ethnic Samoan descent from either the independent nation Samoa or the American territory of American Samoa. Samoan American is a subcategory of Polynesian American. About 55,000 people live on American Samoa, while the U.S. censuses in 2000 and 2008 has found 4 times the number of Samoan Americans live in the mainland U.S.

California has the most Samoans; concentrations live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. San Francisco has approximately 2,000 people of Samoan ancestry, and other Bay Area cities such as East Palo Alto and Daly City have Samoan communities. In Los Angeles County, Long Beach and Carson have abundant Samoan communities, as well as in Oceanside in San Diego County. [28] [29] [30] Other West Coast metropolitan areas such as Seattle have strong Samoan communities, mainly in King County and in Tacoma. Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawaii, both have thousands of Samoan Americans residing in each city.

Persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens (this is the only circumstance under which an individual would be one and not the other). [12] For this reason, Samoans can move to Hawaii or the mainland United States and obtain citizenship comparatively easily. Like Hawaiian Americans, the Samoans arrived in the mainland in the 20th century as agricultural laborers and factory workers.

Elsewhere in the United States, Samoan Americans are plentiful throughout the state of Utah, as well as in Killeen, Texas; Norfolk, Virginia; and Independence, Missouri.

A Tongan American is an American who is of ethnic Tongan descent. Utah has the largest Tongan American population, followed by Hawaii. Many of the first Tongan Americans came to the United States in connection to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Pacific Islander Americans in the 2000 [26] and 2010 United States censuses [31]

AncestryFlag20002000 % of Pacific Islander American population20102010 % of Pacific Islander American population
Fijian
Flag of Fiji.svg
13,5811.6%32,3042.6%
French Polynesian
Flag of French Polynesia.svg
3,3130.4%5,0620.4%
Marshallese
Flag of the Marshall Islands.svg
6,6500.8%22,4341.8%
"Micronesian" (not specified)
Flag of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.svg
9,9401.1%29,1122.4%
Micronesian (FSM)
Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia.svg
1,9480.2%8,1850.7%
Polynesians with New Zealand citizenship (Māori, Tokelauans, Niueans, Cook Islanders)
Tino Rangatiratanga Maori sovereignty movement flag.svg
Flag of Tokelau.svg
Flag of Niue.svg
Flag of the Cook Islands.svg
2,422 (Māori: 1,994; Tokelauans: 574)0.3%925 (Tokelauans only)0.1%
Chamorro
Flag of Guam.svg
Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands.svg
93,237 (Guamanian or Chamorro: 92,611; Saipanese: 475; Mariana Islander: 141)10.7%148,220 (Guamanian or Chamorro: 147,798; Saipanese: 1,031; Mariana Islander: 391)12.2%
Native Hawaiian
Flag of Hawaii.svg
401,16245.9%527,07743.0%
Palauan
Flag of Palau.svg
3,4690.4%7,4500.6%
"Polynesian" (not specified)
Flag of Tahiti.svg
8,7961.0%9,1530.7%
Samoan
Flag of Samoa.svg
Flag of American Samoa.svg
133,28115.2%184,44015.1%
Tongan
Flag of Tonga.svg
36,8404.2%57,1834.7%
Others
Flag of Marquesas Islands.svg
188,38921.5%241,952%
TOTAL874,414100.0%1,225,195100.0%

Location

State/territoryPacific Islander
Americans alone or in combination
(2010 U.S. Census) [32]
Percentage
(Pacific Islander)
Pacific Islander Americans
alone or in combination
(2020 U.S. Census) [1]
Percentage
(Pacific Islander)
[note 2]
Alabama 7,9847,4790.1%
Alaska 11,36018,6682.5%
American Samoa 52,790 [33] 92%
Arizona 28,43137,2120.5%
Arkansas 8,59717,8740.6%
California 320,036337,6170.9%
Colorado 16,82324,7140.4%
Connecticut 6,8645,9710.2%
Delaware 1,4231,5470.2%
District of Columbia 1,5141,4940.2%
Florida 43,41644,4540.2%
Georgia 18,58719,0200.2%
Guam 90,238 [34] 56.6%
Hawaii 358,951394,10227.1%
Idaho 5,5089,2930.5%
Illinois 15,87316,8420.1%
Indiana 7,39212,0150.2%
Iowa 4,17310,0730.3%
Kansas 5,4457,8900.3%
Kentucky 5,6988,4490.2%
Louisiana 5,3336,1000.1%
Maine 1,0081,6190.1%
Maryland 11,55311,4400.2%
Massachusetts 12,36910,4360.1%
Michigan 10,01011,2550.1%
Minnesota 6,8199,3870.2%
Mississippi 3,2283,2350.1%
Missouri 12,13617,8700.3%
Montana 1,7943,1010.3%
Nebraska 3,5514,0690.2%
Nevada 35,43552,5321.7%
New Hampshire 1,2361,7920.1%
New Jersey 15,77714,6210.2%
New Mexico 5,7506,0120.3%
New York 45,80140,5780.2%
North Carolina 17,89120,9570.2%
North Dakota 8012,0860.3%
Northern Mariana Islands 24,891 [35] 46.2%
Ohio 11,38015,1810.1%
Oklahoma 9,05215,0260.4%
Oregon 26,93639,7090.9%
Pennsylvania 14,66216,5320.1%
Puerto Rico 370 [36] [37] 4,1690.1%
Rhode Island 2,8032,3310.2%
South Carolina 6,9888,7370.2%
South Dakota 1,0401,6420.2%
Tennessee 9,35911,0080.2%
Texas 54,80177,1960.3%
Utah 37,99459,2471.8%
Vermont 4767250.1%
Virgin Islands (U.S.) 212 [38]
Virginia 17,23322,2260.3%
Washington 73,213114,1891.5%
West Virginia 1,2951,7260.1%
Wisconsin 5,5587,4700.1%
Wyoming 1,1371,7140.3%
United States 1,332,4940.4%1,586,4630.5%

Military

Based on 2003 recruiting data, Pacific Islander Americans were 249% over-represented in the military. [39]

American Samoans are distinguished among the wider Pacific Islander group for enthusiasm for enlistment. In 2007, a Chicago Tribune reporter covering the island's military service noted, "American Samoa is one of the few places in the nation where military recruiters not only meet their enlistment quotas but soundly exceed them." [40] As of March 23,2009, there have been 10 American Samoans who have died in Iraq, and 2 who have died in Afghanistan. [41]

Pacific Islander Americans are also represented in the United States Navy SEALs, making up .6% of the enlisted and .1% of the officers. [42]

Notes

  1. The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) was a United Nations territory administrated by United States since 1944 until 1986/94 (depending on the country), although it did not belong to the US.
  2. Percentage of the state population that identifies itself as Pacific Islanders relative to the state/territory population as a whole — the percentage is of Pacific Islander Americans alone.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the Pacific Islands</span> Historical development of the Pacific Islands

History of the Pacific Islands covers the history of the islands in the Pacific Ocean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Oceania</span> Historical development of Oceania

The history of Oceania includes the history of Australia, Easter Island, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Western New Guinea, and other Pacific island nations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Micronesia</span> Subregion of Oceania

Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other island regions: Indonesia and the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and Melanesia to the south—as well as with the wider community of Austronesian peoples.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pacific Islander</span> Person from the Pacific Islands

Pacific Islanders, Pasifika, Pasefika, or rarely Pacificers are the peoples of the Pacific Islands. As an ethnic/racial term, it is used to describe the original peoples—inhabitants and diasporas—of any of the three major subregions of Oceania.

Polynesians form an ethnolinguistic group of closely related people who are native to Polynesia, an expansive region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. They trace their early prehistoric origins to Island Southeast Asia and form part of the larger Austronesian ethnolinguistic group with an Urheimat in Taiwan. They speak the Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic subfamily of the Austronesian language family.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chamorro people</span> Indigenous people of the Mariana Islands

The Chamorro people are the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, politically divided between the United States territory of Guam and the encompassing Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Micronesia. Today, significant Chamorro populations also exist in several U.S. states, including Hawaii, California, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, Oregon, and Nevada, all of which together are designated as Pacific Islander Americans according to the U.S. Census. According to the 2000 Census, about 64,590 people of Chamorro ancestry live in Guam and another 19,000 live in the Northern Marianas. Another 93,000 live outside the Marianas in Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States.

The Micronesians or Micronesian peoples are various closely related ethnic groups native to Micronesia, a region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. They are a part of the Austronesian ethnolinguistic group, which has an Urheimat in Taiwan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lavalava</span> Rectangular clothing traditionally worn by Oceanic peoples

A lavalava, also known as an 'ie, short for 'ie lavalava, is an article of daily clothing traditionally worn by Polynesians and other Oceanic peoples. It consists of a single rectangular cloth worn similarly to a wraparound skirt or kilt. The term lavalava is both singular and plural in the Samoan language.

Samoan Americans are Americans of Samoan origin, including those who emigrated from the Independent State of Samoa or American Samoa to the United States. Samoan Americans are Pacific Islanders in the United States Census, and are the second largest Pacific Islander group in the U.S., after Native Hawaiians.

The indigenous peoples of Oceania are Aboriginal Australians, Papuans, and Austronesians. These indigenous peoples have a historical continuity with pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories. With the notable exceptions of Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, New Caledonia, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands, indigenous peoples make up the majority of the populations of Oceania.

The Rotumans are a Polynesian ethnic group native to Rotuma, an island group forming part of Fiji. The island itself is a cultural melting pot at the crossroads of the Micronesian, Melanesian and Polynesian divisions of the Pacific Ocean, and due to the seafaring nature of traditional Pacific cultures, the indigenous Rotuman have adopted or share many aspects of its multifaceted culture with its Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian neighbours.

Oceanianliterature developed in isolation from the rest of the world and in a unique geographical environment. This allowed the development of a unique literature to thrive. Oceanian literature was heavily influenced by religion and ritual. This can be seen by the large amount of religious symbolism featured in it.

Micronesian Americans are Americans who are descended from people of the Federated States of Micronesia. According to the 2010 census, a total of 8,185 residents self-identified as having origins in the country, which consists of four states. More than half of these residents identified their origin as Chuuk State (4,211) with the rest as follows: 2,060 people from Pohnpei, 1,018 from Yap, and 906 people from Kosrae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polynesia</span> Subregion of Oceania

Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are called Polynesians. They have many things in common, including language relatedness, cultural practices, and traditional beliefs. In centuries past, they had a strong shared tradition of sailing and using stars to navigate at night. The largest country in Polynesia is New Zealand.

Euronesian is an umbrella term and portmanteau for people of mixed European and either Oceanians as "Polynesian", "Melanesian" or "Micronesian" descent. The term is most commonly used in Samoa and Fiji. Most Euronesians are descended from British or French colonizers, missionaries and traders and with some from Spaniards and Polynesians in Easter Island and from Spaniards and Micronesians in Guam, Northern Marianas, Marshall Islands, Caroline Islands, and Palau. ʻAfakasi is the common turn of reference for euronesians in Samoa.

Tongan Americans are Americans who can trace their ancestry to Tonga, officially known as the Kingdom of Tonga. There are approximately 57,000 Tongans and Tongan Americans living in the United States, as of 2012. Tongans are considered to be Pacific Islanders in the United States Census, and are the country's fourth largest Pacific Islander American group in terms of population, after Native Hawaiians, Samoan Americans, and Guamanian/Chamorro Americans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mormonism and Pacific Islanders</span>

Relations between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the natives of the Pacific Island groups of Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and surrounding island groups are quite complex.

Oceanian Americans or Oceanic Americans are Americans whose ancestors came from Oceania, a region which is compose of the Australian continent and the Pacific Islands.

Marshallese Americans are Americans of Marshallese descent or Marshallese people naturalized in the United States. According to the 2010 census, 22,434 people of Marshallese origin lived in the United States at that time, though that number has likely grown significantly over the last decade. A recent estimate puts the number at approximately 30,000 in 2018. The United States has the highest concentration of Marshallese people outside the Marshall Islands. Most of these Marshallese people live in Hawaii and Arkansas, with significant populations in Washington, California, Oklahoma and Oregon.

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