Native born residents regain lost ground

Natives regain lost ground

With people fleeing Nevada, native residents are becoming a larger portion of the state’s population.

Native-born Nevadans are perhaps the most stable group in the state, least likely to depart for other places. With Nevada’s population now shrinking after decades as the fastest growing state, the percentage of natives as a portion of those who remain is growing—from 21.3 percent of the population in the 2000 census to 24.3, nearly a fourth of the state. So while their number hasn’t grown much, their proportion of the state has, as others have departed.

This might lead to the notion that more residents will have more of a stake in Nevada than before, but political scientist Fred Lokken doubts it. Locals don’t have much of a record of interest in local affairs, he said.

“Native Nevadans have a culture of not participating and any new arrivals didn’t participate either. Said another way, the state was 50th in the nation in voter turnout before we started growing in population, was 50th in the nation during the 40 years of growth, and will likely remain 50th in the nation with the population downturn.”

That’s unfortunate, he said, because there are fundamental decisions coming up in the next election.

“We seem to be at a crossroads in deciding ‘which’ Nevada emerges in the 21st century.”