July 31, 2009

Small town in Alaska to begin census

The U.S. Census Bureau suggests it plans to begin its head count next year in a remote Alaskan village with a population of 640 or so -- but who's counting?

The Census Bureau let the name of Noorvik, an Inupiat Eskimo village on the Kobuk River, slip out Thursday in Anchorage, the Anchorage Daily News reported. While Deputy Regional Director Mike Burns said after the presentation the village is not necessarily the final selection, officials suggested during the presentation that it is.

The count held every 10 years starts April 1 in the Lower 48. But the Census Bureau begins in the winter in Alaska to avoid spring break-up, when rivers become impassible, and to catch trappers and fishermen while they are at home.

The bureau expects to hire 2,500 people to travel Alaska by dogsled and float plane, along with more conventional transportation.

The last census, we had people go up the upper Yukon 20 or 30 miles to interview a fur trapper, Burns said.

What the census is expected to find is that Alaska's population has grown slightly since 2000, while remote villages like Noorvik have lost people.