The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC), and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) have partnered to create a historic coalition to ensure that the American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) population is accurately counted in the upcoming 2020 Census.
This partnership is formulated out of the grave necessity to ensure a complete and accurate count in Indian Country. The AI/AN demographic made up the largest racial undercount in the 2010 Census at nearly five percent, with estimates even higher in many Alaska Native villages. The AI/AN population has several features that make them one of the hardest to count populations including a high percentage of young children, geographic isolation, language barriers, unequal educational opportunities, poverty, high rates of homelessness and housing instability, and non-traditional mailing addresses that exclude them from Census mailings. The Census has committed efforts and resources to online programing and employment. This is a major problem for many Indian communities, due to the pronounced digital divide in Indian Country created by a lack of broadband access. This places completion of the 2020 Census online beyond the reach of many Native people.
The consequences of the 2010 undercount manifested itself in the form of unjust policies based on flawed data, a shortfall of resources, and a lack of representation in the decision-making process. Another undercount in this year’s Census will be devastating for Native people, which is why these three national organizations are standing together to guarantee that Indian Country is counted accurately in all 50 states both on and off the reservation.
The strength of this partnership comes from its historic reach. Both the NCAI and NARF have built generational trust with the tribal governments and officials around the country while the NUIFC has created a network of 42 urban Indian centers across different major metropolitan cities. This partnership creates an infrastructure that will connect urban and non-urban Indians together and unify our people to make sure we are accurately counted in the 2020 Census.
“This partnership is historic and represents the first time that both our reservation and urban based Native community tribes and organizations will be resourced to do this critically important work,” said Janeen Comenote (Quinault), the Executive Director of the NUIFC.
“NCAI is proud to partner with two of the largest Native-focused organizations in the U.S. to combine and leverage resources, reach, and relationships so that we can combat another undercount,” stated CEO Kevin Allis. “This partnership with NUIFC and NARF demonstrates strength in Indian Country and we are hopeful that our strategic and concerted efforts will result in an accurate count of Native people.”
Added John Echohawk, Executive Director of NARF, “A complete count of all Native peoples is paramount to protecting their civil rights for the next decade. An accurate Census count is essential to securing fair representation and critical resources for Tribes and Native communities. We stand united with our partners at NCAI and NUIFC in working together to ensure Native people and Indian Country count in 2020.”
As Census 2020 unfolds, this coalition will provide informational materials, technical assistance, resources to Indian reservation and urban communities, and a coordinated digital message to enhance the AI/AN Census efforts.