By Santee Ross, University of Montana
Isn’t it every little girl’s dream to fall in love, get married and live happily ever after? I know it was mine and still is minus the whole sappy aspect of it. However, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Native Americans hold the highest percentage of unmarried partner households.
Guess this means I don’t have to worry about planning a wedding. Can’t say I’m surprised by this new information but it still does put a downer on the fantasy of living happily ever after.
About 10 percent of the Native populations are unmarried but there is an upside that the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t know. They don’t know about being Indian married. Being Indian married means you consider yourselves married without the certificate that says so and more importantly everyone else recognizes this.
My uncle and auntie are one of these Indian married couples. They are not legally married but have been together since the dawn of time, basically. They were highschool sweethearts who fell in love and started a family early. They really do love each other and for 20-plus years now they have played the husband and wife roles without the actual titles.
I imagine this is what it’s like for the 10 percent of Native households that are unmarried. They may lack the title but they are really just Indian married.
The U.S. Census Bureau also reported about 40 percent of the Native households are indeed legally married. This means about half of the Native population is married both legally and through the eyes of the tribe. Woo-hoo, let’s hear it for love!
I’ll admit at first I was scared that this new information meant there was going to be a trend of unmarried people in the Native population but after thinking it all over I realized it just means the U.S. Census Bureau didn’t account for the culture, as usual. I can rest easy at night knowing my falling in love, getting married and living somewhat happily ever after is not threatened.
Unless of course I read this information all wrong, but let’s not pop my fantasy bubble just yet.
Santee Ross (Hopi/Lakota) is from Lander, Wyo.