Native Tribes Conduct Census Count
Indian reservations have posed problems to census takers in their statistics of ever-changing household, frequent moves, mistrust of government officials and the mere definition of WHO is an Indian. As a result, the head count of Indians had some of the highest error rates of any minority group in the country.
In addition to the 100 tribes challenging the latest census figures, fifty or so other tribes are conducting or considering their own head counts according to Rick Anderson, a demographer from Tribal Data Resources, a Redding, CA company that is advising tribes on their census taking quest. Tribes were given the right to challenge the census when the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act was signed by President Clinton in 1996.
“Prior to that time”, said Anderson, “they were victims of the census system.” Each additional person counted brings in several hundred dollars a year in federal grant money.
“We’re being shorted on funding,” asserts Jason Hintsala, 27, an unemployed father of two, recently laid off from a job milling logs from the Warm Spring Lake Reservation’s pine forest on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains.
The Warm springs recount, which began in October of this year, has 17 new canvassers fanning out and ringing doorbells. As of November 24th, the recount on the reservation was about half completed.
Nationwide, 2.1 million people reported to the 2000 census takers that they consider themselves pure American Indian or Alaska Natives, far more than the 1.7 million officially enrolled in the country’s 560 federally recognized tribes.