U.S. Census first count to occur this month in remote Alaskan village

The census’ first enumeration will occur in Toksook Bay, only reachable by dogsled, snow machine, or bush plane

information provided by the US Census Bureau

LANSING, Ill. (January 8, 2020) – While most homes in the country will receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census beginning in mid-March, the census count will actually begin months earlier in Alaska’s Toksook Bay, a rural village on the Bering Sea that can only be reached by dog sled, snow machine, or bush plane when the ground is still frozen.

Remote Alaska’s vast, sparsely settled areas traditionally are counted in January of the decennial census year. Local census takers must get a head start while the frozen ground allows easier access to the remote areas with unique accessibility challenges. In addition, many residents leave following the spring thaw to fish and hunt or for other warm-weather jobs, making it difficult to get an accurate count in the days leading up to Census Day.

For the last three censuses, the U.S. Census Bureau selected a remote Alaska Native village as the location of the first enumeration. Residents of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and other large Alaska cities will respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or mail in mid-March with the rest of the country. In past years, the first enumeration locations in Alaska have been Noorvik in 2010, and Unalakleet in 2000 and 1990.

About Toksook Bay

  • Located in the Yukon Delta Region, on the Bering Sea
  • 2017 population estimate: 661
  • 2010 Census population: 590
  • 94 percent Yup’ik Alaskan natives
  • About 130 housing units
  • Walking is the primary mode of transportation to work for 64.2 percent of the population
  • 2017 median household income: $53,750.
Graphic provided by the US Census Bureau

Why start with Toksook Bay?

  • The area is a part of the remote Alaska operation.
  • The village is directly accessible from Bethel, a hub city.
  • Approximately one-third of the Alaska Native villages are located in the Bethel area, and therefore Toksook Bay is a good representation of a common Alaska Native village environment.
  • The majority of the village is Alaskan native.

Why is the census important?

  • It determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and is used to redraw district boundaries.
  • Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of resident needs including new roads, schools, and emergency services.
  • Businesses use census data to determine where to open places to shop.
  • Data can be used to forecast future housing needs on a local level.
  • Demographic information helps health services like hospitals and clinics plan better.
  • Police and fire departments can use the data to have a better understanding of their communities that might aid in an emergency situation.
  • Faith-based organizations can use the data to determine how best to reach their local communities.

Lansing has formed a Complete Count Committee whose mission is to encourage Lansing residents to complete the census when the forms arrive in the mail in late March 2020. Committee members and Village officials have been speaking and handing out flyers at a variety of events and meetings throughout the community in an effort to make residents aware of why census data is so important.

The information gathered is always shared in aggregate and is never associated with a specific address or person.

Read more about Census 2020:

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