Cherokee Nation to citizens: Get counted

BY CHAD HUNTER
Reporter
04/13/2020 10:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A worker on Aug. 13 gets ready to pass out instructions on how to fill out the 2020 Census during a town hall meeting in Lithonia, Georgia. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. JOHN AMIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
TAHLEQUAH – To reach the fullest potential for federal funding, Cherokee Nation leaders remain steadfast in urging tribal citizens to get counted in the latest census.

“Important services we provide such as housing and health care are federally funded,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in an April 1 video. “Census numbers determine those dollars we receive for those programs.”

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. Those statistics inform how billions of dollars in federal funds are allocated for public services like health care clinics, schools and education, along with roads and bridges.

“Census data is also instrumental when applying for grants,” Hoskin said. “The Cherokee Nation estimates that for every tribal citizen who doesn’t get counted in the 2020 Census, it’s a loss of over $50,000 in funding over the next decade.”

Every home was expected to receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 census by April 1, dubbed the official Census Day. However, April 1 was “a reference date, not a deadline to respond,” according to the Census Bureau.

The latest census is the first in which participants are able to complete it online.

“The 2020 census is easy,” Sydney Matheson with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington said. “You can do it online, over the phone or by mailing in the form.”

Participants are asked to count everyone living in their homes as of April 1, according to the bureau’s website, 2020census.gov.

“A letter from the U.S. Census Bureau will come in the mail to each home containing a unique code,” Hoskin said. “If you’re a Cherokee Nation citizen, as your chief, I’m asking for you to help by being counted. List everyone living in your household, mark your race as Native American and write in full ‘Cherokee Nation’ as your enrolled tribe.”

Millions of people from across the country have already responded online, according to the Census Bureau.

Oklahoma, at 41.4%, was lagging behind the national response rate of 46.2% a week after the official Census Day. Nearly 34% of those responses were made online, according to the bureau. In the 2010 Census, Oklahoma ultimately recorded a “self response” rate of 62.3%.

CN leaders have pointed to counties within their jurisdiction such as Adair and Sequoyah that were undercounted in 2010 by nearly 50%. So far this census, Sequoyah County has a 29.1% response rate. Adair County had just broken 17% as of April 8. Cherokee County, where the CN is headquartered, was just under 36%. The county’s self-response rate in 2010 was 54.4%.

“It’s really very important to have a very accurate and very complete count with the census because representation and funding for those areas is usually directly tied to the census,” National Congress of American Indians CEO Kevin Allis said. “So making sure that you participate and are included in that count safeguards your ability to benefit from funding and also be properly represented in Congress.”

In a public service announcement from the NCAI, CN citizen Amari McCoy, with the organization’s Youth Commission, urged the younger generation to get involved.

“It’s as simple as, you know, you can go online,” she said. “It’s just telling your friends about it, telling family members, and just letting them know how they can be involved.”

The planned completion date for data collection is July 31, but that date “can and will be adjusted if necessary” as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Census Bureau.

For information, visit census.cherokee.org, email censusinfo@cherokee.org or call 918-430-3488.
About the Author
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late  ...
chad-hunter@cherokee.org • 918-453-5269
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late ...

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