Indian Country Counts

To ensure all American Indians and Alaska Natives were accurately counted in the 2010 Census, NCAI launched the Indian Country Counts campaign in 2009. Historically, American Indians and Alaska Natives are one of the most undercounted groups of any population in the U.S.—12.2 percent of Natives on reservations were missed in the 1990 Census compared with 1.2 percent of all people in the U.S.

To reverse this trend, NCAI partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, and other national partners to create a nationwide public education and outreach campaign around the 2010 Census. The campaign also worked with grassroots partners to mobilize and provide support to tribal leaders to help them educate their communities about the importance of being counted by the Census.

A highlight of Indian Country Counts was the pledge campaign conducted online and at NCAI conference events. In exchange for committing to undertake at least three activities to promote the Census in their communities, individuals received a free Indian Country Counts t-shirt customized with their tribal affiliation. Nearly 1,700 people participated in the pledge campaign, which resulted in grassroots organizing and a wave of tribal pride across Indian Country.

Residents of Noorvik, Alaska, where the 2010 Census kicked off, were the first to proudly wear their t-shirts proclaiming “I’m Inupiaq, and I Count!”

Throughout the campaign, NCAI accomplished the following:

  • Constructed an interactive web portal which received almost 19,000 visits;

  • Distributed nearly 7,000 copies of two educational publications—2010 Census: A Call to Action and Census Toolkit for Tribes;

  • Produced and mailed out nearly 13,000 Indian Country Counts t-shirts;

  • Dispersed 12,500 stickers, 2,500 magnets, and 1,000 postcards;Conducted four instructional webinars reaching over 1,800 viewers;

  • Hosted a national Student Art Competition to encourage Native youth to support their families’ participation in the Census, with 86 students from 12 states and 25 tribes submitting entries;

  • Participated in local, regional, and national Native conferences and meetings through workshops, plenary presentations, and exhibits; and

  • Published editorials, print and online advertisements, and e-mail blasts throughout the campaign.

As the 2010 Census winds down, the Indian Country Counts campaign continues to move forward by working with the Census Bureau on the American Community Survey process, which has serious implications for Indian Country.

The Indian Country Counts campaign was made possible by the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Institute. We thank them for their contribution to this important work.