NARF is working with organizers statewide in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, and at the local level in parts of Michigan, Minnesota, Utah and Wisconsin, on a new project called Fair Districting in Indian Country. They will use mapping software to define communities down to the street level, helping them suggest to redistricting officials where to draw lines.
As early as June, the advocacy group Western Native Voice was telling its organizers in Montana — which is getting a second House seat as a result of population growth — to use that software and send data about their communities to NARF. In a three-day training in the southern Montana city of Bozeman that month, W.N.V. leaders emphasized that communities of interest could be defined not only by race and ethnicity but also by something as specific as a shared water source threatened by pollution.
Now that the census data is out, the first order of business is “explaining it to the organizers and the field team, because it’s going to come likely in a somewhat messy format to the general public,” Keaton Sunchild, the political director at Western Native Voice, said in an interview on Thursday morning. “We’ll explain what it means to them, and then we’re going to go use that data to form our message” for a state redistricting commission hearing in October.
Before that hearing, Mr. Sunchild said, Western Native Voice organizers will talk to tribal leaders about their priorities. For example, he said, the Crow Tribe and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in southern Montana share a state legislative district and don’t want to be separated in redistricting.
Beyond mapping, advocates who want redistricting officials to treat specific groups as communities of interest need to show that those groups are cohesive, meaning they have shared interests that justify keeping them together.
Mr. Makhija cited a study that Indian American Impact did in Georgia, which found that large majorities of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — and even larger majorities of Indian Americans — voted Democratic in the presidential election and the Senate runoffs. He said the group planned to do similar research in other states and would focus its efforts on California, Georgia, New York and Texas.
The L.G.B.T.Q. Victory Fund is also planning to push redistricting officials in states with independent commissions to treat L.G.B.T.Q. people as communities of interest, as my colleague Aishvarya Kavi reported on Wednesday. The Victory Fund cites as a success story the creation of a San Diego City Council district centered on the Hillcrest neighborhood; that district elected San Diego’s first openly gay official in the 1990s and has been represented by a member of the L.G.B.T.Q. community ever since.