Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oregon's Population Grows More Diverse

When Oregon became a state in 1859, there were around 52,500 residents, and more than 99 percent of the population was white. Since then, Oregon’s population has changed significantly in terms of racial and ethnic diversity. Most of this change has occurred in recent years.

In 1990, white people made up 95 percent of the population. The number of white people in the population has risen since 1990, but so has the number of people of other races.

By 2008, the portion of white people was 90 percent. Black people accounted for 2 percent of the state’s population in 2008, and other races made up the remaining 8 percent.

Oregon’s population has also grown more ethnically diverse, as seen in the growth of the Hispanic population over the last two decades. In 1990, Hispanic people – who can be of any race – made up 4 percent of the state’s population. By 2000 this figure had grown to 8 percent, and in 2008 it was 11 percent.

Racial and ethnic diversity varied by county in 2008. For instance, of the 1,750 residents of Gilliam County, about 1,700 (97.5%) were white, making Gilliam the least racially diverse county in Oregon. Jefferson County, on the other hand, was the most racially diverse county; only 79 percent of its 20,500 residents in 2008 were white.

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Julie said...

So do we know, for 1859, how many Native Americans lived in Oregon but were not counted as citizens?

Brooke Jackson-Winegardner said...

Unfortunately, we don't have good estimates of the Native American population from the early days of our statehood. According to the Census, Oregon had just 177 persons of Native American, Eskimo, or Aleut decent in 1860. But those 177 are only the folks who were taxed; there were undoubtedly far more than 177.

We know that when the pioneers first made contact with the Native Americans in Oregon, there were somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 Native Americans in Oregon.