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From Press Release

PALA, Calif. — In preparation of the U.S. Census Bureau mailing scheduled for March 12, a national American Indian census roundtable discussion will take place today, Monday 9, at 11 a.m.-12:30 PDT. The roundtable will be livestreamed at at IndianCountryToday.com.

The roundtable panel will originate from the Pala Band of Mission Indians reservation north of San Diego. A California reservation was chosen because the state has the largest total of American Indians by state.

The Census Bureau estimates that, in the 2010 decennial census, American Indians and Alaska Natives had the highest undercount (4.9 percent) of any other population.


The discussion will provide important information to viewers about how to fill out the census, which for the first time can be taken on-line. The online response at 2020Census.gov opens on March 12.

Additionally, tribes and Indian advocates are providing guidance to tribal people about how to self-identify on the census as American Indian, including specifying their tribal government, village or reservation.

Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant will be the moderator. Pala Tribal Chairman Robert Johnson and Census Bureau Los Angeles Region Director Julie Lam will make opening remarks.

The American Indian panelists will include Jessica Imotichey, Census Bureau Los Angeles Region tribal partnership coordinator; Lycia Maddocks, VP of External Affairs, National Congress of American Indians; Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Washington, DC, editor of Indian Country Today; and Kayla Olvera Hilario, Tribal Affairs Specialist, California Complete Count.

April 1 is national Census Day. The 2020 Census seeks a count of everyone living in a particular household on that day. It is possible to respond to the census on-line, by phone or by paper survey. There is a preview of the on-line census survey at this recent Alaska-based tutorial. (The actual survey portion runs from 24:30 to 41 minutes.)

The Census Bureau has launched a national 2020 Census promotional campaign, with messages on a variety of media (TV, radio, print, outdoor, and social media) targeting Native audiences. Produced by G&G Advertising, a Montana-based Native American firm, two national TV spots promote messages of being united and giving voice to community needs for future generations. The print ads’ visuals seek to address geographical and cultural diversity of Native people and cultures across the U.S: Quinault women wearing tribal robes walk a Pacific Ocean beach; a man fancy-dances next to a Montana river; and Chitimacha children pose at their tribal school in Louisiana.

National organizations, tribes and advocacy groups are conducting their own special outreach. The National Congress of American Indians is sponsoring an Indian Country Counts campaign. The National Urban Indian Family Coalition and partners are specifically targeting urban Indian populations. Across the U.S. tribal nation governments such as Standing Rock, Choctaw, Navajo Nation and others have formed their own complete count committees and allocated funds to promote participation. Special inter-tribal campaigns are underway in CaliforniaNew MexicoMontana, North Dakota, MinnesotaWashington State and elsewhere.

In Minnesota, leaders of 11 federally recognized tribes passed a resolution supporting a 2020 Census Powwow to be held in Minneapolis on March 21. The governor also has signed a proclamation declaring it Census Powwow Day. Census takers will be on site helping people fill out their forms on-line.

There will be a significant Census Bureau presence at the largest intertribal cultural event of late winter – Denver March Powwow on March 20-22 in Denver – and then at the nation’s largest powwow – Gathering of Nations, in Albuquerque on April 24-26.

Meanwhile, the effort to count everyone in rural Alaska Native villages continues. The nation’s early enumeration phase began in the Bering Sea village of Toksook Bay on January 21, beginning with a 90-year-old Alaska Native Yupik elder. (Urban areas of Alaska take the census on the same timetable as the rest of the nation.) The Alaska Counts campaign has created a range of resources, including content in multiple indigenous languages, as well as a compelling new public service announcement. Similar to directives by tribal leaders in the Lower 48, the Alaska Federation of Natives is providing specific guidance on how Alaska Native people should fill out the 2020 census.

It is still not too late to apply for census taker jobs, workers who will do “non-response follow-up” with households that do not immediately fill out the census survey. Most households are expected to respond on-line during the month of April. The deadline for responding to the 2002 Census is July 31. https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html

In the coming weeks, the Census Bureau will track response rates in real time. (Note: this data will not include in-person enumeration from remote Alaska.)

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