• Wed. Oct 28th, 2020

Thursday Night Owls: An inaccurate census would be bad news for American Indians

ByAdiantku

Oct 2, 2020

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

Anna V. Smith at High Country News writes—An inaccurate census has major implications for Indian CountryIndigenous people are frequently undercounted, undermining political power and representation:

The first place the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed for the 2020 census was Tooksook Bay, Alaska, part of the agency’s long tradition of conducting early counts in the state’s remote villages. In March, with about half of rural Alaska still uncounted, enumerators were pulled out of the field because of COVID-19, as the bureau shifted its schedule to accommodate the barriers the pandemic presented. Then, in August, the Census Bureau quietly released an updated deadline for the census, moving it from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30, eliminating four weeks of critical outreach. September is moose-hunting season in Alaska, so people are generally harder to reach; it’s also the beginning of storm season, which means power outages and delays for mail delivery by plane. As a result, despite the early start, Alaskans in general and Native Alaskans in particular are still lagging behind the national average in their response rates.

“In terms of wrapping up the census, there’s not a worst time for rural Alaska and Alaska Natives,” Nicole Borromeo (McGrath Native Village), executive vice president and general counsel of the Alaska Federation of Natives. This is the first time the census has been available to complete online or by phone in Alaska, a necessary option given the pandemic, but the process has run into issues of internet and phone connectivity. Meanwhile, many Alaska Natives are still waiting for someone to show up at their door, questionnaire in hand, though Borromeo has warned, “A numerator in rural Alaska is not coming. Do not wait a second longer.”

The current census hurdles are not only affecting Alaska Natives: The pandemic has severely stymied the 2020 census throughout Indian Country, as many tribes closed reservation borders to nonresidents, including census workers. The U.S. census typically undercounts Indigenous populations, more than any other group in the country. This ultimately limits Indigenous political representation, owing to redistricting, and it also decreases federal funding for things like schools, houses and health care.

Data from the U.S. census provides the primary measurement by which federal funds are directed to tribal governments, putting $675 billion at stake. To distribute funds to tribes for the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, for example, the federal government relied on the 2010 census. That census had an estimated undercount of 4.9%, so tribes received less than they would have, given an accurate count. This year’s count is shaping up to be much lower — something closer to 1990’s 12% undercount — meaning tribes will have far fewer resources in the decade ahead to recover from the pandemic and the economic turmoil it has produced. “The communities that are being undercounted are the same ones being hardest hit by COVID-19,” said Jaime Gloshay (White Mountain Apache), the founder of Native Women Lead, who has worked on get-out-the-count efforts in New Mexico.

TOP COMMENTSCOMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

QUOTATION

“We’re living in a whole new social and economic order with a whole new set of problems and challenges. Old assumptions and old programs don’t work in this new society and the more we try to stretch them to make them fit, the more we will be seen as running away from what is reality.”
          ~~
Ann Richards (1985) 

TWEET OF THE DAY

Did you know that for every dollar white men earn Native women are paid only 60 cents? October 1 is #NativeWomensEqualPay day, marking how many more days Native women have to work to earn what white men make in a year.

— Rebecca Nagle (@rebeccanagle) October 1, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—At Countrywide, protecting mortgage fraud involved firing whistleblowers:

The thing about a corporation committing widespread fraud is that it tends to involve a lot of people, some of whom will not be enthusiastic about committing fraud and may even try to stop it. Michael Hudson at iWatch News reports on how Countrywide Financial Corp. protected its ability to commit fraud by firing whistleblowers, behavior that continued after Countrywide was bought by Bank of America. In fact, they fired the person in charge of fraud investigations; recently, “the U.S. Department of Labor ruled that Bank of America had illegally fired her as payback for exposing fraud and retaliation against whistleblowers. It ordered the bank to reinstate her and pay her some $930,000.”

But Countrywide/Bank of America didn’t just get in the way of investigations at the top. At least 17 other former employees allege that they were demoted or fired for raising the alarm about fraud they witnessed.

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