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Missoula Measures - Minorities


Population Percentages - Missoula County
Description 1990 2000 2005-07 Estimates
White 96.1 95.8 95.1
Black 0.2 0.5 0.9
American Indian 2.3 3.4 3.5
Asian & Pacific Islands 1.1 1.6 1.8
Other 0.3 0.8 0.9

Source: U.S. Census

Brief background

Missoula’s American Indians

Occasionally in this report we have identified specific data or concerns associated with American Indians, but effectively presenting the range of concerns or an adequate context to understand them is beyond the current scope and goals of the Measures project. Indians in Missoula are a diverse mix, with more than 20 tribes from Alaska to the Southwest represented. These tribes are culturally distinct and sometimes have little in common. Most Missoula Indians are from Montana tribes and many spend some time on reservations and some in Missoula. Although the census found 2.3% of the population to be American Indian, the Missoula Indian Center has estimated that 5–6% is more realistic. (3.6% of the 12,000 students at the University of Montana are American Indian.) In terms of income, education, housing conditions, and employment, Indians fare worse than the average Missoulian, and this probably correlates with poorer health status. Some chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes and alcoholism are special concerns.

School Based Programs to Assist Minority Students

Since 1978, MCPS has pursued federal funding (Title 9 grants of various sizes and duration) to provide additional support for minority students in Missoula County. With the fall of Vietnam in 1975, Hmong refugees began to arrive in Missoula (currently, there are 79 students enrolled in Missoula County schools). In 1990, a persecuted evangelical Christian group began to arrive from the Soviet Union; (currently, 138 Belarussian students).

In recent years, some Title 7 funds and Title 9 funds have been obtained to bolster the district’s assistance to American Indian students (about 350 students from 35 tribes). Services include bilingual tutors, after school language classes, summer school. A teacher/coordinator visits schools providing tutoring and cultural enrichment activities, as well as conferring with parents about services, etc. Indian students generally fall into two categories: 1) those associated with students at UM, and 2) those making Missoula a permanent home, from a wide range of educational, income and modern vs. traditional backgrounds. Betsy Williams, Missoula

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