Fri Aug 28th, 2020
Tags: American Indians and Alaska Natives, Census 2020, Census data, First Americans, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC), Native American Rights Fund (NARF), tribal nations, U.S. Census Bureau, United States Congress, United States Constitution
This week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it is ending its Census 2020 field operations on September 30, 2020, despite severely low response rates in historically undercounted areas, including in many tribal areas across the country.
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC) are deeply alarmed and concerned with this unwarranted and irresponsible decision. An accurate Census count is essential to ensure fair and accurate representation of all Americans, including this country’s First Americans, because Census data is used for reapportionment of congressional seats and in redistricting to elect representatives at every level of government. Ending the 2020 Census count early during a global pandemic is not only bad policy, it puts at risk the ability of our communities to access social safety net and other benefits that a complete Census count affords Americans wherever they are.
Our tribal nations and tribal communities have been ravaged by COVID-19, and an extension of the Census enumeration period was a humane lifeline during an unprecedented global health catastrophe that provided critically needed additional time to tribal nations to ensure that all of everyone in their communities are counted. For millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives, whether they live on rural reservations or in America’s large cities, an inaccurate Census count will decimate our ability to advocate for necessary services for our most vulnerable communities. An incomplete count also undermines our representative system of government in violation of the United States Constitution and in derogation of the federal government’s trust responsibilities to tribal nations.
NCAI, NARF, and NUIFC strongly support a complete Census count and call on the United States Congress to take urgent legislative action to include an extension of the Census field operation timelines in the next COVID-19 package.