Groves is slated to count the first household in Noorvik, a remote Inupiat Eskimo village located north of Arctic Circle.
Monday’s single count will be the only one conducted by Groves, and the rest of Noorvik’s population will be enumerated beginning Tuesday. Census workers and trained locals are expected to take a week to interview villagers from the same 10-question forms to be mailed to most residents March 15. Census workers also will visit 217 other rural communities, all in Alaska, in the coming weeks.
Alaskans in rural communities not linked by roads have been the first people counted since the 1990 census. The unlinked communities are the places where the process is first conducted in person by census workers. The bureau makes personal visits to nonresponding residents around the country.
It’s easier to get census workers to the Alaska villages before the spring thaw brings a muddy mess, making access more difficult, said Ralph Lee, director of the bureau’s Seattle region, which oversees Alaska. Also, residents in many villages still live off the land, hunting and fishing for their food, and it’s important to reach them before they set off for fishing camps or hunting expeditions when the weather begins to warm.