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2020 Census and Tribal Communities

September 29, 2020
Written by: Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director

As the end of the 2020 Census response period approaches, the U.S. Census Bureau remains committed to a complete and accurate count of people living on tribal reservations. In the last census, the American Indian and Alaska Native population living on reservations was estimated to have been undercounted by 4.9% — one of the highest undercounts of any group.

Your help is needed to ensure this doesn’t happen in 2020!

Not everyone realizes how much a count reflecting the true number of people will impact their tribal community’s day-to-day life. In addition to determining representation in the U.S. Congress, data from the 2020 Census will inform how much federal money may, or may not, be allocated to each reservation. Money for roads, housing, schools and health care is allocated based on how many people are located on tribal lands. Being undercounted could mean fewer resources over the next 10 years.

The Census Bureau is a statistical agency, which means your information is protected by law. We take our oath to protect your data seriously — a deeply and sincerely held value among our staff. Your personal information will not be shared with other government agencies, including housing authorities.

If you are a tribal leader, I urge you to ask your tribal citizens to respond now. They can do so online, by phone (844-330-2020), or by mailing back the paper questionnaire.

If responding is difficult due to challenges of geography or low internet and phone connectivity, the census takers visiting many reservations right now can help. We have worked hard to ensure these interviews can be conducted safely amid the pandemic. If a reservation is closed due to COVID-19, the Census Bureau is asking tribal leaders for contact lists, and we are calling tribal citizens directly to conduct the census questionnaire over the phone.

We are grateful to the tribes and our partners who are helping us achieve our goal of a complete and accurate count, including the many tribal citizens who work as census takers.

As data collection will end soon, we urge you to respond now, as the cost of not being counted is too high. Help shape your future and the future of all American Indians and Alaska Natives by responding today!



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