Cherokee Nation banking on accurate Census count
The Cherokee Nation has launched a campaign called #CherokeeNationCounts to ensure citizens complete the 2020 Census. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Like other tribes, the Cherokee Nation is urging its citizens to complete the upcoming 2020 Census “completely and accurately” to guarantee an appropriate flow of federal funding for health, housing and other programs.
The CN launched a Census-related informational effort called #CherokeeNationCounts “because if we aren’t all counted, we leave money on the table,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. stated in the campaign news release.
“The Cherokee Nation estimates for every one Cherokee Nation citizen who doesn’t get counted, it’s a loss of about $50,000 in federal funding over the course of a decade that helps our tribal programs and services,” Hoskin added.
The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. Census Bureau population statistics inform how billions of dollars in federal funds are allocated for public services such as health clinics, schools and education, along with roads and bridges. The 2020 Census will also determine how many seats each state gets in Congress and guide the drawing of local political boundaries.
Every home is expected to receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census by April 1. The latest census will be the first in which participants will be able to complete it online. Participants will also be able to complete it by mail or over the phone.
According to the CN, during the 2010 Census, tribal communities such as those in Sequoyah and Adair Counties had a lower participation rate.
“We have been working closely with tribal governments for years on the best way to accomplish our goal of counting everyone in the 2020 Census,” said Dee Alexander, Tribal Affairs Coordinator for the Census Bureau.
Census Bureau representative Kathleen Styles noted that people who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native may mark the American Indian or Alaska Native checkbox and enter the name of their enrolled or principal tribe in the write‐in area. Individuals will be able to report multiple races and/or tribes.
To ensure CN citizens are properly counted, Deputy Chief Bryan Warner recommends they mark “American Indian” and also write “Cherokee Nation” in full as their affiliate.
“This is so important for the Cherokee Nation,” he added. “Ten years ago when some of our communities were under-represented, we lost out on several grant opportunities and community enhancement initiatives.”
Census responses are confidential and protected by law, according to the Census Bureau.
“We do not share your information with law enforcement agencies or immigration officials,” the bureau’s Denver regional director, Cathy Lacy, said.
According to 2010 Census data, 71% of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in urban areas.
“The majority of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in urban areas, but our programs still continue to be underfunded,” Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of the Urban Indian Health Institute, said. “It is important that Native people complete the census and we get an accurate count of our population so that we can provide the programs that strengthen our people.”