2020 Census Strives To More Thoroughly Count First Nations

Nov 22, 2019

The U.S. Census Bureau is stepping up efforts to get Native Americans and Alaskan Natives more fully counted next year, which includes those living in Oregon and Idaho.  

Drummers with the 4J District NATIVES program at Sheldon High School.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Census officials say in the last decennial count, 5.2 million people in the U.S. identified as Indian or Alaskan native. But these groups were also undercounted by nearly 5 percent.  Shana Radford says they don’t want to repeat that in 2020.

“Every person per household when they don’t participate…that’s a lot of money left on the table," she tells KLCC.  "Tribal reservation areas and off-reservation folks utilize a lot of the services that receive grants.

"For instance, school lunch programs, Head Start programs, dollars for transportation, for housing…housing’s a huge need on reservations.”

Radford is the Census Bureau’s Tribal Partnership Specialist for Oregon and Idaho, with Cayuse and Nez Perce heritage.  She says in the new form, respondents can mention multiple tribes, as well as clans, bands, and villages they affiliate with. 

Census officials also want to hire native people as surveyors.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.