The Northwest has a surprisingly strong historical connection to Hawaii, which I’ll explore a bit next week. That connection is still reflected to a degree in the region’s demographics. Continuing my series on the evolving racial demographics in the Northwest, let’s take a look at Pacific Islanders who reside in Cascadia.

Washington is home to more people who self-identify as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander than any other state apart from Hawaii and California.

Not surprisingly then, the largest populations of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the Northwest can be found in the central Puget Sound region. The cities that populate the stretch of territory from Everett through south Tacoma account for 13 of the top 20 spots in the region.

In Oregon, the big Willamette Valley cities of Portland, Salem, and Eugene boast the most Pacific Islanders with the Portland-area suburb of Tigard making a surprise appearance.

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  • Idaho has relatively few people of Hawaiian or Pacific Island descent, despite some prominent geography with Hawaiian-influenced names.

    Interestingly, the places with the largest reported shares of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (as opposed to raw numbers) are mostly small towns like Barlow City, Oregon and Butte City, Idaho. Unfortunately, the official census data for these locales come with margins of error so great that the estimates can’t be reliably compared to one another.

    Ethnic Hawaiians make up the largest share of the Northwest’s residents who hail from the Pacific Islands.

    In the chart above, I show the number of residents of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington who self-identify as “Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.” After Hawaiians, Samoans and Mariana Islanders (classified here at Guamanian or Chamorro) are most prevalent.  Fijians, Marshallese, and Tongans are also present, but in much smaller numbers.


    Notes and sources: Population figures come from the following US Census Bureau sources: 2010 Demographic Profile Data, “DP-1: Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010”; 2010 Census Summary File 1, “Race Reporting for the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population by Selected Categories: 2010”; 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, “B02012: Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone or in Combination with One or More Other Races.”

    Comparable figures at not available for British Columbia because the Canadian Census does not report data for Pacific Islander populations.