Native Americans across the United States are waiting for a solution to the census undercount

Native Americans face less than a decade of funding from the federal program on reservations because thousands were not counted in the 2020 census – a problem shared by minority communities across the country.

Tribal governments use those federal funds for basic conservation needs, where the poverty rate has historically been the highest in the country. The federal government distributes $ 1.5 trillion annually based on the results of the census, which Native Americans missed 5 percent of the time.

That means less money for food programs, building roads and running schools, says Joshua Ars, president of the Partnership with Native Americans, a nonprofit nonprofit organization that provides education, infrastructure and other grants to tribes across the country.

“The programs that these communities deserve are really for survival,” Ars said.

The Navajo Nation, mainly in northeastern Arizona, for example, received a 3.4 million grant in 2021 for the construction of water infrastructure such as septic systems. And Northwest Nevada’s Pyramid Lake Piot Tribe plans to use a দান 1 million housing grant this year to build housing for older tribal members, a community landromat and a disabled ramp for the disabled by COVID-19.

Native Americans are consistently the worst counted population group. But the 2020 census also missed a significant portion of other minority communities across the country, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released last month.

Although the overall count was 0.25 percent of the country’s estimated 331 million people, the agency missed about 5 percent of the Hispanic population, the biggest miss for that group in decades, and about 3 percent of the black population, the report found.

Congress wants a solution

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

Although most federal programs do not directly use decades of census data for funding decisions, they rely on dozens of different data sets that the Census Bureau or other agencies create using decades of numbers as a baseline.

Signed by 45 members of the House and represented by Linda T. A letter from Sanchez, de-Calif and Reuben Gallego, led by D-Ariz, asked the agency to provide more information about the low count and how it wanted to prevent it from affecting them. Distribute federal funds.

The letter said, “This misallocation will have a devastating effect on the thousands of underdeveloped communities in our country, preventing resources from going to programs and areas that they need most.”

In another letter, Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J. And 20 other Senate Democrats have argued for “considering ways to correct the undercount in estimating the annual population estimates from the 2020 census.”

A spokesman for the Census Bureau said the agency had received the letters and was working for a response.

The company plans to release more information about the undercountry next month. This includes state-to-state undercounts, which advocates say will be key to assessing the accuracy of the census.

Finding a fix

The Census Bureau is considering how to address the low counts in data used by federal agencies, and currently has some existing tools to address local undercounts.

But these tools require a concerted effort from local communities that may already be stuck for resources. Ars noted that the census has missed a similar number of Native Americans over the past decade, during which time they have less resources to build their community or prepare for larger events such as the coronavirus epidemic.

The coronavirus epidemic has hit Native American communities particularly hard, Ars said, and the rural nature of reservations has made it difficult for the Census Bureau to count them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native Americans are three times more likely to have Covid-19 than white Americans, more likely to be hospitalized, and more likely to die. According to the CDC, Native Americans had the highest mortality rate in the country, with more than 440 deaths per 100,000 people.

“Would it have been different if additional funds had been available 10 years ago? Would pushing for more telemedicine save more people? “Ars said.” I mean, those services, we’re talking about communities that don’t have basic needs, where they lack water, electricity, internet lines. “

Groups such as the National Congress of American Indians have pressured the Census Bureau to engage with the Native American community in the undercount.

“Every low-income family and individual in our community desperately needs funds and resources to address the significant inequalities we face,” NCAI President Von Sharp said in a statement after the results were released.

The agency has so far held a tribal consultation on the undercount and will likely hear further concerns at an advisory committee meeting next month with representatives of minority groups across the country.

Calculation problem

Census Bureau officials said the count between the coronavirus epidemic and the record wildfire and hurricane season faced “unprecedented” challenges that contributed to the miss.

Since many reservation residents lack Internet access or mail service, census workers have to hand out forms – a process that has been delayed for months.


Several tribal governments have also decided to stop their protection in an attempt to isolate them against the virus, which means delaying the count.

Advocates have also blamed the Trump administration’s decision, such as a hasty end to the count and a failed attempt to add citizenship questions to the form.

Census Bureau Director Robert Santos, who took over the agency in January 2022, said in an interview that many members of the minority community did not trust the government and were reluctant to take part in the census.

“At the end of the day, we were in an epidemic. It was unprecedented, “said Santos.

However, Ars said he believes the federal government should be responsible for solving the problems it creates.

“It’s definitely a broken system,” Ars said.

Image Credit: Getty

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