Counting America’s First Peoples

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5 Scopus citations


The descendants of the First Peoples of the Americas (labeled “American Indians and Alaska Natives” in the federal definition) are a particularly challenging group to count in censuses. In this article, I describe some enumeration issues and then outline what we have learned about American Indians and Alaska Natives from efforts that rely on individuals’ answers to census questions on race, ancestry, ethnicity, and tribe. Those who do not report a tribe and those who change their race response from one census to another complicate these efforts. Tribal self-enumeration and indigenous data sovereignty may improve data about some portions of the population. Census and survey enumeration efforts should continue to separate the concepts of race, ancestry, and tribe lest the various subpopulations become indistinguishable in the data, making the data much less useful and possibly misleading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-190
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 by The American Academy of Political and Social Science.


  • American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • U.S. Census
  • indigenous
  • self-identification
  • tribe


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