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Impoverished Native Americans in Shiprock rank third

FARMINGTON – A new report ranks Shiprock third in the nation in the percentage of Native Americans living below the poverty line.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s report analyzed the 20 cities most populated by Native Americans and Alaska Natives and compared the poverty rates from 2007 to 2011.

The Daily Times of Farmington reported that nine of the 20 cities were in New Mexico and Arizona.

Under current federal guidelines, a person earning less than $11,170 a year or a family of four with an annual income of less than $23,050 is considered to be living in poverty.

Shiprock’s poverty rate was 39.6 percent. Gallup was ranked fourth on the list with 31.8 percent, Zuni Pueblo was fifth at 31.8 percent, Farmington was seventh at 29.6 percent and Albuquerque was 12th at 27.4 percent.

Among the Arizona cities on the list, Tucson ranked sixth with a poverty rate of 31 percent.

Phoenix finished ninth on the list at 28.9 percent, Tuba City was 11th at 28 percent and Mesa was 18th at 22.8 percent.

Native Americans accounted for 96 percent of the people living in Shiprock, according to 2010 Census figures. The annual per capita income is about $12,000.

“Unfortunately, our community has been in this condition too long,” said Shiprock Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie. “The only way is up.”

All of the New Mexico cities listed had higher poverty rates than the state’s rate, which was 21.5 percent. The country’s was 15.9 percent.

Rapid City, S.D., had the highest poverty rate on the list with nearly 51 percent. Minneapolis had the second-highest with 48.3 percent.

Nine states had poverty rates of about 30 percent or more for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

They are Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and Utah.

The Census Bureau’s report was released Wednesday.

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