National Native organizations issue joint statement on U.S. Census Bureau Change to 2020 Census Operations
National Congress of American Indians
Native American Rights Fund
National Urban Indian Family Coalition
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.
National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund, and National Urban Indian Family Coalition 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.
About the National Congress of American Indians
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. National Congress of American Indians advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.
About the Native American Rights Fund
Founded in 1970, Native American Rights Fund is the oldest and largest non-profit dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and individual Indians nationwide. For the past 48 years, Native American Rights Fund has represented over 275 Tribes in 31 states in such areas as tribal jurisdiction, federal recognition, land claims, hunting and fishing rights, religious liberties, and voting rights. For more information, visit www.narf.org.
About the National Urban Indian Family Coalition
Created in 2003, the National Urban Indian Family Coalition advocates for American Indian families living in urban areas by creating partnerships with tribes, as well as other American Indian organizations, and by conducting research to better understand the barriers, issues, and opportunities facing urban American Indian families. The National Urban Indian Family Coalition works to ensure access to traditionally excluded organizations and families, and to focus attention on the needs of urban Indians. Learn more by visiting www.nuifc.org.