How should Native Americans fill in the questions? How to complete the 2020 Census

Posted By Paul G April 10th, 2020 Last Updated on: April 10th, 2020

The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the United States has counted its population since 1790. Conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2020 Census will count the population in the United States and five U.S territories. Participation is required by law, and each home will receive an invitation to respond to a questionnaire.

What does this mean for Native Americans?

The 2020 Census will affect community funding, congressional representation, and help guide how billions of dollars in federal, tribal, and state funding are distributed fairly. Many Native American communities have been historically undercounted in the census.

How should Native Americans complete the 2020 Census to ensure their voices are heard?

Why Are Native Americans Continually Underrepresented in the Census?

Lack of connectivity and language barriers are two of the biggest reasons why the Native American community. The data collected from the census helps tribal leaders better understand their community member's needs.

Tribal leaders and other Native American community members must help to ensure a complete and accurate count in all tribal communities who live on and off of the reservations. This help can include translating the census from English to Native Languages. In some states, lawmakers are petitioning to produce audio recordings explaining how to fill out the census in various languages spoken by the Native American tribes in their states.

Best Ways to Reach Your Tribal Members:

  • Social Media
  • TV
  • Billboards
  • Special Events
  • News Media Outlets (newspaper, local news broadcasters)
  • Radio
  • Schools
  • Word of Mouth

How Should Native Americans Reply to the “Race” Section Under the 2020 Census?

The 2020 survey includes the ability to check multiple boxes under the race section to increase accuracy and specificity.

This year the survey will also provide a space to confirm a tribal affiliation.

Selecting ‘Native American‘ on the form will make the data more reliable, even in conjunction with another race.

From Census.gov:

We understand you might have questions about providing this information. Here are some guidelines for responding:

  • Your answer to this question should be based on how you identify. Each person can decide how to answer.
  • You are free to choose where to report your identity and which boxes to mark, or not to mark.
  • You are not required to mark a checkbox category in order to enter a response in one of the write-in areas. You may respond by entering your specific identity or identities in any of the write-in response areas on the race question.

You may select one or more boxes for the race or races you identify with and enter your origins in the write-in space.

  • If you don't know the answer, please move on to the next question.
  • The instructions ask you to select one or more boxes and then enter detailed origins in the provided write-in fields. If you don't know the person's origin, you can leave this field blank.
  • In the online questionnaire, if you select a box, but leave the origin fields blank, a message will appear at the top of the screen and the blank field will be highlighted in red. If you do not know this the person's origin, click next again to continue completing your response.

The 2020 Census AIAN (American Indian and Alaska Native Population) Program

The Census Bureau works with federally recognized tribes and reaches out to their communities to promote the importance of a complete, accurate census count. The plan will help outreach to state-organized tribes, along with urban and rural AIAN populations.

To learn more about the AIAN Program, check out Resources for AIAN. If the tribal community in the United States fails to respond to the census, the AIAN population could be drastically underrepresented, resulting in limited funding for new facilities and programs.

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