2020 Census Redistricting: First Look at American Indian/Alaska Native Population Data
Posted: Friday, August 13, 2021
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U.S. Census Bureau Releases 2020 Census Redistricting Data and a First Look at AI/AN Population Data

Note: The following is the text of an April 12, 2021, news release from the National Congress of American Indians.

The U.S. Census Bureau held a news conference on August 12, 2021 on their release of the 2020 Census P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data File. This is the second major data product from the 2020 Census after the release of apportionment data in April 2021. This data release begins the official redistricting process at the state and local levels and the data is available in the “legacy format,” which requires special methods to analyze. By September 30, 2021, the data will be released to the public in easier to use formats.

States primarily use the P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data File to draw new congressional, state, and local districts that will influence representation, voting, and the allocation of new resources to communities. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is a part of the Coalition Hub Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (C.H.A.R.G.E.) initiative, and its civic engagement team is conducting trainings for tribal communities to encourage their participation in state and local redistricting efforts. Local advocates can define local communities of interest, testify at local hearings on redistricting, and talk about the importance of fair elections, accurate redistricting, and the need for all communities to get the representation and resources they deserve.

“NCAI is excited to see the 2020 Census results that show a more diverse America,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “We are also excited that the official redistricting season can now begin with today’s release of the redistricting data. We are encouraging all Tribal Nations to participate in their local and state redistricting efforts to ensure that Tribal Nations are fairly represented and have access to the resources they need and deserve.”

The U.S. Census Bureau also released results from the 2020 Census on population changes, race and ethnicity counts, and results from new diversity measures. The 2020 Census count was impacted by COVID-19, shutdowns and closures preventing in-person enumeration, and lack of access to online response in some rural and remote communities. The new privacy measures may cause problems with the quality and usability of census data especially in small, rural, and remote populations. However, the results show the growing diversity of the U.S. population, which creates more opportunities for all to learn about the rich diversity of Tribal Nations.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the total American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone and in combination population increased from 5.2 million in 2010 to 9.7 million in 2020, which is an 86.5% increase. AI/ANs now represent 2.9% of the U.S. population.

“Today, we are pleased that the 2020 Census data show the increase in diversity in the United States, and a large increase in the AI/AN population,” said Dante Desiderio, NCAI Chief Executive Officer. “American Indians and Alaska Natives are a fundamental part of American history, and we hope these data inform efforts to ensure that our schools teach more American Indian and Alaska Native history in their courses about American history. Tribal Nations make significant contributions to the local, state, and regional economies and have a rich and vibrant culture that contributes positively to the past and current history of the United States.”

NCAI is now analyzing the data from the P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data File to determine counts for the AI/AN population and tribal lands (geographies) and to assess the quality and usability of the data, especially for small, rural, and remote populations and Tribal Nations. The 2020 Census data will be important for Tribal Nations in the redistricting process, federal funding formulas, local tribal governance, and AI/AN research. NCAI will post updates on its Policy Research Center website in the coming weeks.

Note: Thumbnail photo of enumerator in Toksook Bay, Alaska, by U.S. Census Bureau >