Counting Western Alaska

Preparations are underway for the 2020 census in the Bering Strait region, which is set to start in the village of Toksook Bay in January. There are several challenges involved with counting every Alaskan, especially in the rural villages and cabins that Western Alaskans call home.

The census data is part of the equation that determines federal funding for Alaska. That number has been estimated to over $3 billion, so it is important to get it right.

In Alaska’s bigger cities, residents can be counted by phone, e-mail, or online. People in other communities will be tallied in-person by enumerators, bringing job opportunities for local residents.

Mary David of Kawerak, the Bering Straits’ regional non-profit corporation, explained the benefits of local participation.

“I think it’s easier when people know the enumerators who are coming to their door to complete the census rather than a stranger from another community or even from out of the region,” David said.