Census Taking In Indian Country - Make It Personal!
Native Americans living on reservations across the country pose a multitude of problems for census takers: They live in sparsely populated rural areas without regular mailing addresses and often mistrust government officials. The head count of Indians had some of the highest error rates for any minority group in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau wants to change that by the 2010 count- by making it personal.
New methods include encouragement from tribal leaders to be open with the people who take the census and making door-to-door visits by census takers, who, themselves, will be reservation residents.
This is the plan being introduced by Census Bureau Director, Louis Kincannon who arrived on Wednesday, March 15th on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation for the formal kickoff of the new project that will test the new counting methods for use on reservations across the nation. The Cheyenne Reservation is located in Northern North Dakota west of the Missouri River. Local enumerators will have the advantage of knowing the terrain.
”Sometimes these area are really hard to get to,” said tribal member, Marjorie Gunville, ‘You might need a four-wheel drive.”
Cheyenne tribal officials are encouraging residents to cooperate because an accurate account ensures that each tribe gets its fair share of federal funding for housing, welfare, health, day care and a wide range of other programs.
Many Indian people have been reluctant to disclose the number of individuals who live in their homes because restrictions included in some of health and welfare programs set a limit to the number of people who can live in one household.
Publicity campaigns will emphasize the fact that census information is confidential so that answers to the census takers questions cannot be used to affect anyone’s eligibility for assistance programs.
Tribal chairman Harold Frasier also has written a letter encouraging people to cooperate and that letter will be handed to the person who answers census questions for each household.
All households will get the short form with only eight questions. The long form with 50 questions will be done through monthly samples to get an ongoing detailed picture of the population.
It is estimated that the 1990 census takers missed 4.5 percent of the American Indian population. The national rate was 1.5 percent. More alarming to the National Congress of American Indians is that 12.2 percent of all Indians living on reservations were missed.
I feel it is very important for government officials to understand if they want to get an accurate census count of people living on Indian reservations across the country, they will have to send census takers that reservation residents will trust. People they know who will understand and respect their culture and traditions.
This column has been edited for length, content and rewritten to be directed to the Native community from an Associated Press story in the March 18th edition of The Arizona Republic bylined Chet Brokaw.
New Mexico 'Dems' Create Native Caucus
Indianz.Com. In Print.
Monday, March 20, 2006
The Democratic Party of New Mexico has created its first Native American Caucus. Laura Harris, Comanche, is the chairwoman of the new caucus. She said New Mexico is only the second state with a Native caucus.
California's Democratic Party created the first one in 1998. Native Americans make up about 10 percent of the state population. Harris said, "Natives are 16 percent of the Democratic vote." She added 75 percent of registered Native voters are Democrats.
INDN's List 1st Birthday Party A 'Rocking Success'
Submitted by Kalyn Free, President INDN’s List
INDN’s List recently celebrated its First Birthday in Washington D.C. More than 100 friends from across the country and dozens of tribal leaders came together for an evening to reflect on our ground-breaking successes and look forward to an even brighter future. Democratic leaders including DNC Chair Howard Dean, Californian Congressman Mike Honda, and former Minnesota Congressman Bill Luther encouraged INDN’s List to continue our efforts to ensure that the First Americans are represented – not just at the table, but on the ticket.
INDN’s List was privileged to have Governor Dean as our guest of honor. He reaffirmed the Democratic Party’s commitment to the advancement of Native Americans and the importance of bringing our First Americans into the political process.
“Democrats know that we can do better. But change is only possible when we stand up and fight for what we believe. I am committed to encouraging greater participation on the part of American Indians in our political process,” Dean said. “It is not enough for candidates to come to your communities 6 weeks before an election and ask for your vote. We have to show up now; Encourage American Indians to run for office; Provide them with the tools to win; and Encourage them to stand up for what they believe in. That is what we are doing. Together, if we show up, organize, fight for what we believe, and encourage American Indian candidates across the country to run, we can move our country forward.”
Our work and fulfilling our mission would not be possible without you. We know you will continue to support us in the coming year as we prepare to elect Indians to positions throughout the country.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.