by Azara Mohammadi
The U.S Census Bureau announced an early end to 2020 Census field operations. The Census will now end on September 30, 2020 – a month early. This announcement was made without prior notice, consultation, or consideration for tribes, tribal communities (or any communities) who are struggling to deal with the realities of the coronavirus pandemic.
An incomplete and inaccurate Census count will mean that our tribes and communities will be underfunded for the next ten years. A decade of inappropriately low levels of funding will negatively impact community infrastructure, health care, education, and housing.
The U.S. Census Bureau has a responsibility to the nation, to ensure their count is accurate. An abrupt and early end to the Census, falls short of meeting that responsibility.
On August 14th, 2020, in a letter to Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Sullivan, and Congressman Young, AVCP underscored the necessity of an accurate Census count. AVCP requested immediate advocacy, on behalf of all Alaskans, for the reinstatement of the original Census end date (October 31st, 2020).
The 2020 Census started in our region, in Toksook Bay, Alaska. Alaska is considered the most logistically challenging state to survey. Our state’s response rate is the second lowest in the nation. Alaska is home to nearly half of all the federally recognized tribes in the United States. Historically, Alaska and tribal communities across the nation have been undercounted, and thereby underfunded. With tribes and tribal organizations across Indian Country, AVCP has worked diligently to encourage an accurate Census count in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta with our regional partners.
AVCP encourages you to stand up for our region. We encourage all tribal members and tribal councils to engage their federal representatives, by letting them know how incomplete Census data will impact your community.
Lastly, if you have not filled out the 2020 Census yet, please do so. Everyone counts in our region. Fill out the 2020 Census for you and your family today.
Azara Mohammadi is the Communications Director for the Association of Village Council Presidents.