Wednesday, June 08, 2011

"Others: 31%"

The New York Times has an interactive mapping feature called Mapping America available where you can "Browse local data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey..." to see the distribution of racial and ethnic groups in an area of the US by searching on a zip code.

Data is presented as dots that represent specific groups of people. There are green dots for Whites, blue dots for Blacks, yellow dots for Hispanics, red dots for Asians, and gray dots for Others.

There is no dot for American Indians.

Most survey's don't list us as an option. I've gotten several phone surveys over the years about politics wherein the caller is also collecting demographic data. "American Indian" is never one of the choices I'm given. We are, to use the jargon, "statistically insignificant" in terms of the data. We are, however, overrepresented in terms of Native images on commercial products (like Land O'Lakes) or for school mascots. But wait! Those images are stereotypes, not reality. 

Who we are, in reality, is... invisible. Invisible as "other." 

At the Times page, I entered the zip code for Nambe Pueblo in the search box. You can do it to, and see what I mean. Our zip code is 87506. You'll end up on a map that includes Santa Fe. Lot of yellow dots clustered there, and some white ones, too.

If you hover your mouse over the map (at the Times site), specific "census tracts" pop up. In those pop up boxes, you'll get data on that tract. When I hover the mouse over the area where Nambe is located, the data I get says:
Census tract 10103
Population estimate: 1,710
Whites: 13%
Blacks: 0%
Hispanics: 55%
Asians: 1%
Others: 31% 

Interesting! "Others: 31%" is the tribal members of a federally recognized tribal nation.

When I hover the mouse over the area south of Santa Fe where Kewa Pueblo (formerly known as Santo Domingo) is, here's what the box says:

Census tract 9402
Population estimate: 3,574
Whites: 1%
Blacks: 0%
Hispanics: 3%
Asians: 0%
Others: 96%

In that box, "Others: 96%" is tribal members of another federally recognized tribal nation.

Messed up, don't you think? The people (American Indians) that Americans purport to "honor" with mascots and other stereotypical images don't rate high enough for who we are IN REALITY to be listed...  What would happen if all those defenders of that stereotypical imagery rallied around us as people of the present day instead of defending the use of those stereotypes?


Anonymous said...

Census participants choose the 'ethnic/social' group they identify as, including writing in anything.

jpm said...

When 31-96% of a population comes up as "other", that should be a clue to those who created this handy feature for the Times that something is wrong with their categories. And the problem is NOT that they aren't erasing hard enough.

jpm said...

chad360's post suggests that census participants at Nambe and Kewa must be choosing the category "other". American Indian/Alaska Native (if memory serves) is a category on the census, according to the census web site and the census documents my family received.

But the Times resource Debbie refers to apparently does not list American Indian/Alaska Native. So I'm still not sure why they would not include it if they are working from Census data. Did I miss something?

Jay said...

I had no idea this was happening. It is a shame. Well -written article and I think you should take your statement to the census. Tell them to change!