Help deliver an accurate count in Census 2020

By Ardith Van Riper

     The United States Constitution mandates a headcount every ten years of everyone residing in the United States.  The Ho-Chunk Nation does not share enrollment numbers, making it essential for all Ho-Chunk members to participate in the 2020 Census.  The census presents questions that provide a snapshot of the United States.

     The 2020 Census race question is based on self-identification and the Census Bureau does not tell individuals which boxes to mark or what heritage to write in.  The question on race is asked of all people in the United States.  Those identifying as American Indian may enter the name of their enrolled or principal tribe. 

     Certain populations groups are considered hard to count and are at higher risk of being missed.  Native people have been historically underrepresented in the census.  The Census Bureau estimates that Native people living on reservations or in Native villages were undercounted approximately 4.9 percent, more than double the undercount rate of the next closest population group.

     Being hard to count can lead to unequal political representation and unequal access to vital public and private resources.  Today, there 326 reservations and 567 tribes recognized by the federal government.  Each tribe has its own distinctive health, housing, education, and financial needs.  Many programs and services that impact Native communities are funded based in whole or in part on census data.  An accurate count ensures each tribe has their fair share of federal funds.

     Where you are counted makes a difference for you and your community.  Your responses helps make sure federal funds is directed each year to the right places to support education health care, firefighting services, create jobs, provide housing, and more.  A complete and accurate count also determines how many representatives each state will have in Congress.  You should count yourself where you live and sleep a majority of the time.

     Census results help inform how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for hospitals, schools, roads, programs, grants, emergency services, and a variety of ways that benefit Ho-Chunk people.  The 2020 Census is an opportunity to provide a better future for our Ho-Chunk communities and future generations.  To accomplish that, we need to help deliver an accurate count.