Chickasaws Join 2020 Census Task to Count Native Americans

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby

Published May 6, 2019

WASHINGTON — Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced a partnership between the U.S. Census Bureau and Chickasaw Nation to help ensure Native Americans are counted accurately during the 2020 census.

During an April 1 “Shape Your Future” press event here, Governor Anoatubby said the task to count all Native Americans is a priority for the Chickasaw Nation.

He stressed the Chickasaw Nation will engage other tribes to provide accurate information about Native American populations.

“There has been an undercounting of certain populations and, as Native Americans, we have had a long-term issue that affects us,” Governor Anoatubby told top census officials.

Native Americans were undercounted by about 4.9 percent, a rate more than double the next population group.

The Chickasaw Nation has formed a complete count committee to address this disparity. An awareness campaign includes advertising in both tribal and local outlets as well as direct mail pieces encouraging citizens and employees to participate.

Census participation takes place throughout the year online, through social media, as well as informational booths and kiosks at facilities and events.

Meeting Tribal Needs

“We encourage all tribal Nations to institute their own initiatives to encourage their citizens to participate and to form their own complete count committees for the 2020 census. Every tribe can form its own complete count committee,” Governor Anoatubby explained.

The unique government-to-government relationship between tribes and the U.S. government is at the heart of accurately counting all Native Americans.

According to Governor Anoatubby, the census is essential to governmental operations and the allocation of funding.

“An accurate accounting of Native Americans is particularly important because of the government-to-government relationship. The federal government has treaty responsibilities to provide certain services (to Native Americans). Education is one; health care, housing and other services,” he said.

“For these reasons and others, it is vital we conduct an accurate census. It is very important we all be involved in the gathering of this important information.”

Rural Challenges

Many tribes are isolated and in rural areas that might be overlooked during the census count. Governor Anoatubby called the problems “logistical obstacles.”

“According to the 2010 census, roughly 26 percent of Native Americans live in ‘hard to count’ census tracts. For instance, some reservations are in remote locations and they are difficult to access,” Governor Anoatubby pointed out.

“In some reservations, you do not have street names; you do not have convenient ways to identify households,” Governor Anoatubby said.

“It is important that we, as tribes, step up and become partners. By participating, we speak for the generations of Native people that preceded us and for those yet to come. The funding that results from our participation will help us to continue to build a bright future for our people. We will do our part to ensure that every Native American is counted in 2020,” he added.

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