Pacific Islands Americans, also known as Oceanian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans, or Native Hawaiian and/or other Pacific Islander Americans, are Americans who have ethnic ancestry among the indigenous peoples of Oceania (viz. Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians). For its purposes, the U.S. Census also counts Indigenous Australians as part of this group.
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, Marshallese and Tongans. Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, and Chamorros have large communities in Hawaii, California, and Utah, with sizable communities in Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Alaska. Fijians are predominantly based in California.
|Pacific Islands Americans|
0.2% of the total U.S. population (2010 Census)
1,225,195 alone or in combination
0.4% of the total U.S. population (2010 Census)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Texas|
|American English, Polynesian languages, Micronesian languages|
|Christianity, Polytheism, Bahá'í, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Pacific Islanders, Austronesians|
In the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census, 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, the Marshalls or other Pacific Islands.
In the 2010 census 1,225,195 Americans claimed "'Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander'" as their race alone or in combination.
|Ancestry||2000||2000 % of Pacific Islands American population||2010||2010 % of Pacific Islands American population|
|Chamorro||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%|
|Polynesians with New Zealand citizenship (Māori, Tokelauans, Niueans, Cook Islanders)||2,422 (Māori: 1,994; Tokelauans: 574)||0.3%||925 (Tokelauans only)||0.1%|
|"Micronesian" (not specified)||9,940||1.1%||29,112||2.4%|
|"Polynesian" (not specified)||8,796||1.0%||9,153||0.7%|
|State/territory||Pacific Islands Americans alone (2010 US Census)||Percentage[note 1]|
|District of Columbia||770||-|
|Northern Mariana Islands||18,800 ||34.9%|
|State/territory||Pacific Islands Americans alone or in combination (2010 US Census)|
|District of Columbia||1,514|
|Northern Mariana Islands||24,891 |
The largest Micronesian American subgroups are Marshallese and Chamoru Americans. Other significant groups include Yapese, Pohnpeian, Kosraean, Chuuk, and Palauan.
Chamorro Americans, or the Chamoru, are the indigenous inhabitants of the Marianas, which are politically divided between Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Chamoru have been subject to the jurisdiction of the United States since the U.S. captured Guam during the Spanish–American War in 1898. The rest of the archipelago did not become affiliated with the U.S. until it invaded the Japanese-occupied islands in 1944. In the 2010 census, 147,798 identified as "Guamanian or Chamorro". Because of economic conditions in the Marianas, particularly from the 1990s onward, many emigrated to the States in search of work and better opportunities. There are now more Chamorros in the 50 states than there are in the Marianas.
According to the 2010 census, the largest Chamoru 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 Chamoru people are the most geographically dispersed Oceanic ethnicity in the country.
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’s 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.
Large subcategories of Polynesian Americans include Native Hawaiians and Samoan Americans. In addition there are smaller communities of Tongan Americans (see Culture and diaspora of Tonga), French Polynesian Americans, and Māori Americans.
A Samoan American is an American who is of ethnic Samoan descent either from the independent nation Samoa or the American territory of American Samoa. Samoan American is a subcategory of Polynesian American. About 65,000 people live on American Samoa, while the US census in 2000 and 2008 has found 4 times the number of Samoan Americans live in the mainland USA.
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. 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.
Since the end of World War II, 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.) 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.
A Tongan American is an American who is of ethnic Tongan descent. Utah has the largest Tongan American population and Hawaii has the second largest. Many of the first Tongan Americans came to the United States in connection to the LDS Church.
Based on 2003 recruiting data, Pacific Islander Americans were 249% over-represented in the military.
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." As of 23 March 2009 there have been 10 American Samoans who have died in Iraq, and 2 who have died in Afghanistan.