Data Resources

Tribes require accurate data accompanied by relevant analysis to advance their policy and planning efforts. The NCAI Policy Research Center works to provide access to quality data, initiatives that support data use, and data analysis to support the work of tribal leaders. Current projects include: 

Data Disaggregation

Over the past several years, the NCAI Policy Research Center has sought to share with tribal leaders, planners, program administrators, and policymakers various approaches to interpreting and employing federal data on American Indian and Alaska Native youth and families. In disaggregating data to a state level, we feel that we can advance a deeper understanding of about the realities facing Native communities, as well as the systemic levers that might be used to generate better outcomes, greater resources. Our purpose and methodology include the following dimensions:

Advancing a New Narrative. Discussions of equity are often overtaken by a focus on disparity, which can render invisible community strengths and obscure potential solutions. We aim to advance a new narrative by presenting existing data as part of four lenses to promote new understandings of Native youth and families that extend beyond a poverty lens; by promoting Native-to-Native comparisons alongside disparity data; and by disaggregating national data to the state level to take place into account. By doing so, we hope to provide tools to data users and consumers to see new patterns and possibilities when it comes to American Indian and Alaska Native youth and families.

Promoting Increased Use of AIAN Data. American Indian and Alaska Native youth are often invisible in federal data sets, due in part to the small size of the overall population of Native peoples in the US. However, the extent to which they are represented in data sets reflects our commitment to and ability to understand and address their unique needs. And where we find fairly good data at a national level, there is an ever-present need to access data at state, county, and tribal levels to develop relevant policy and program supports. Tribal and community planners need better data to harness local resources to areas of greatest need and to hold state and federal governments accountable to meet the needs of our nation’s first peoples. Our hope is that these profiles will represent a new way to tell the story of Native youth and families, will increase community users’ awareness and use of existing data, and will promote comparisons and analyses that lead to better outcomes for Native youth and families.

Sources of Data. For this analysis, we sourced publically available federal data that was both disaggregated for American Indians and Alaska Natives and by state. Additional state data was sourced selectively where consistent federal data was unavailable, but used sparingly as indicators are not always the same across states. The analysis builds on earlier work presented in NCAI’s Regional Data Profiles. When multiple years of data are available, the most recent data is presented. When referring to AIAN data, this includes data for American Indian and Alaska Native alone, except where indicated that it is in combination with other races. 

Exploring the Data through a Thematic View and State View. There are two frames through which we explore the data – a thematic view that looks across four states to understand economic, education, health, and justice system outcomes for Native youth and families and a state view that looks within a state to understand how a particular state enables or constrains Native prosperity.

Using Comparisons to Gauge Strength & Disparity. It is often quite difficult to identify even a common percentage for American Indian and Alaska Native youth at a state level because of issues with data collection, quality, and disaggregation. Yet, if we can access these data, we must then ask how we know whether a percentage is too high, too low, or what we would expect. To do so, we must identify useful points of comparison.

The four thematic areas we have selected  as analytic lenses are:  Access to Opportunity; Child Health & Wellness; Family Economic Capability; and System Involvement. Over the next several months, we plan to release several products that highlight this effort surrounding data disaggregation. Below, please find one-pager synopses of Native youth system involvement for the four states of Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma:

Profile of Alaska: System Involvement
Profile of Montana: System Involvement
Profile of New Mexico: System Involvement
Profile of Oklahoma: System Involvement

Frequently Used Data (FUDs)

The NCAI Policy Research Center is working with our NCAI Legislative Policy team to identify their most common data needs and produce data synthesis that will drive NCAI’s policy work. As part of this work, we are compiling a list of the major databases used to host data on American Indian and Alaska Native peoples by the federal government. Our current work is summarized in the Demographics Profile we issue annually, and in some instances has been tailored for particular issue areas as was done in this Snapshot of Indian Education. This work is also being informed by work by other organizations to develop indicators and indices to monitor the status of Native and other groups. See, for example:

Data Displays & Mapping

While many data reports typically come in narrative form, increasingly we see the value and reach of infographics that use data to tell a visual story. Sometimes, these infographics involve mapping information onto land maps to show regional impacts or trends. The NCAI Policy Research Center staff is works to develop visual and map-based images for use in all of our products and online dissemination to present data in various ways. Some of the resources we draw on include: