Alaska Counts | 2020 Census

While April 1, 2020 is the next Census Day, the census count will begin months earlier in rural Alaska. Beginning in January, as residents across the North Slope begin to fill out the census questionnaire, you will see a new question about race/ethnicity for Alaska Natives on the census.

This new question asks individuals who identify as Alaska Native to then fill out their federally recognized tribe, Alaska Native Claims Settlements Act (ANCSA) Regional Corporation, ANCSA Village Corporation or ethnic group. With several possible ways to answer this question, what is the best way for North Slope residents to respond?

We understand that this question may tempt shareholders to write down ASRC as their tribal affiliation. Though this question is for self-identification and in no way asks the person for proof of enrollment of a tribe or corporation, the person should avoid writing down ASRC for multiple reasons.

  • Not Specific Enough
    While ASRC does represent the Iñupiaq natives of the North Slope, the Corporation spans the villages of Point Hope, Point Lay, Utqiagvik, Wainwright, Atqasuk, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik and Anaktuvuk Pass. The breadth of ASRC does not fully capture the number of individuals living in each community, and could lead to an incomplete picture of individual villages in the census count.
  • Less Room for Economic Growth
    Businesses use the information gathered from the census to make decisions. Recording your family and yourself as Alaska Native will be beneficial to the community’s future.
    If you do not list ASRC as your tribal affiliation, then how should you respond? Below are a few options to consider.

If you do not list ASRC as your tribal affiliation, then how should you respond? Below are a few options to consider.

1) Federally Recognized Tribe
You can respond with your village’s federally recognized tribe:
Anaktuvuk Pass – Village of Anaktuvuk Pass or Naqsragmiut Tribe
Atqasuk – Atqasuk Village
Kaktovik – Kaktovik Village
Nuiqsut – Native Village of Nuiqsut
Point Hope – Native Village of Point Hope
Point Lay – Native Village of Point Lay
Utqiagvik – Native Village of Barrow Inupiat Traditional Government
Wainwright – Native Village of Wainwright

There are 229 federally recognized tribes in Alaska (view complete list here). As of 2010, only 15.4% of the population in Alaska identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, and only 2.6% of the total United States Indigenous population was enrolled in a federally recognized tribe in Alaska.

There is a good chance that you are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe. If you do not know, asking your family that raised you can help. A lot of Alaska Natives are registered at a young age and don’t realize that they are enrolled until they are older. These federally recognized tribes are ideal for recording yourself since the Census does not ask for proof of enrollment, as this is a self-identification question.

2) Village Corporation
You can also choose to respond with your village’s associated corporation:
Anakatuvuk Pass – Nunamuit Corporation
Atqasuk – Atqasuk Iñupiat Corporation
Kaktovik – Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation
Nuiqsut – Kuukpik Corporation
Point Hope – Tikigaq Corporation
Point Lay – Cully Corporation
Utqaigvik – Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation
Wainwright – Olgoonik Corporation

3) Alaska Native Group
If you do not wish to identify with any of the federally recognized tribes, you can choose to identify with one of the Alaska Native groups. The “Eskimo” people are part of the Inuit group, which spans all across the top hemisphere to include Denmark, Greenland, Russia, Canada and Alaska. The two types of Eskimo peoples are Yup’ik and Iñupiaq. There are also the American Indian groups inland of Alaska that include Athabascan, Tlingit, Kenaitze, Tsimshian, as well as Aleuts along the Aleutian Chain, including Kodiak. Identifying yourself as one of these ethnicities would be beneficial for Native American numbers for the upcoming decade, as well.

How does this all affect you as a shareholder? Understanding your identity is critical for the 2020 census because of the population growth and changes in community aspects and aspirations. Ensuring that the census records an accurate count of Alaska Natives in each village provides data for businesses to grow the economy and helps to determine state legislative districts. By completing the tribal affiliation question with your federally recognized tribe or village corporation, you will ensure that your village is appropriately counted for in the census and thus eligible for appropriate benefits.

Learn more at www.alaskacounts.org.