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Thursday Evening Owls: An inaccurate census can be unhealthy information for Indians

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1990 Census counters track down tribal members on horseback. A few decades later, some Navajo are still counted.

Night Owls, an open thread, is published seven days a week by Daily Kos

Anna V. Smith at High Country News writes –An inaccurate census has a significant impact on the Indian country. Indigenous peoples are often under counted, which undermines political power and representation:

The first place The U.S. Census Bureau polled for the 2020 census was Tooksook Bay, Alaska, part of the agency's long tradition of conducting early censuses in the state's remote villages. In March, when about half of rural Alaska had not yet been counted, the counters were pulled out of the field because of COVID-19 when the office postponed its schedule to accommodate obstacles created by the pandemic. Then, in August, the Census Bureau tacitly published an updated census deadline, postponed from October 31 to September 30, eliminating four weeks of critical contact. September is Alaska's moose hunting season, so people are generally harder to reach. It's also the start of the storm season, which means power outages and delays in air mail delivery. As a result, Alaskans in general, and Native Alaskans in particular, still lag behind the national average in their response rates despite the early start.

"There is no worst time for rural Alaskan and Alaskan people to complete the census," said Nicole Borromeo of McGrath Native Village, executive vice president and general counsel of the Alaska Federation of Natives. This is the first time the census can be taken online or by phone in Alaska. This is a necessary option given the pandemic. However, during this process there were problems with the internet and phone connection. Meanwhile, many Alaskan natives are still waiting for someone to show up at their door with the questionnaire in hand, even though Borromeo has warned, “A counter is not coming in rural Alaska. Don't wait a second longer. "

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