Phoenix Indian Center
Every ten years, the United States counts everyone living in the country, and then uses the Census data to make decisions about how to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds. The 2020 United States Census is underway with a deadline that has been moved up 30 days by the current administration, to September 30. Because many rural tribal communities continue to face broadband challenges that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a current undercount of the American Indian population that could have dire consequences for countless individuals and families.
"The latest update I've received from the National Urban Indian Families Coalition is that of the 1,028,377 American Indians and Alaska Natives living on reservations, only 373,067 have completed the 2020 US Census," said Patricia Hibbeler, Phoenix Indian Center's Chief Executive Officer. "With more than 63 percent undercounted right now, we must reach these individuals as soon as possible to provide the necessary resources for them to complete their Census information," added Hibbeler.
Responses to the United States Census are confidential and protected by law and are vital to the future of education, infrastructure, housing, transportation, and other essential services. The undercount of the American Indian and Alaska Native populations means that funding for programs and grants benefiting tribal communities could suffer.
The Phoenix Indian Center, in partnership with other statewide and national American Indian organizations, is working fervently to connect with the community to encourage participation in the United States Census, and to provide the necessary resources.
"It is important that anyone who self-identifies as American Indian or Alaska Native indicate that on the form, and then print the name of their tribe in the write-in area. We encourage everyone to check with their family and friends, especially those living on our reservations, to ask if they have completed the Census, and if they require assistance to do so," said Hibbeler.
Head of households and individuals are asked to complete the Census online, based on who was living in your home on April 1, but if you don't, an enumerator will come to your door to count everyone in your household, including relatives, non-relatives, babies, and children. The Phoenix Indian Center is staffed to support the Census efforts and is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., to answer questions.
The Census Office is also looking for enumerators, in Arizona and New Mexico – especially in outlying rural areas, to count households in their areas. These are paying jobs that run through the September 30 deadline. Interested individuals can apply on the Census website.
Tutorials and more information about the Census can be found online at 2020census.gov.
About Phoenix Indian Center
Founded in 1947, the Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest American Indian non-profit organization in the United States. Each Year, the Center directly serves more than 7,000 individuals, and more than 20,000 through related outreach, by providing services in the areas of job readiness, cultural enrichment, youth services, and prevention programs. Learn more at www.phxindcenter.org.