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October 12, 2009
NCAI, National Native Organizations Join U.S. Census Bureau in Launching "Indian Country Counts" Census Campaign
NCAI, National Native Organizations Join U.S. Census Bureau in Launching "Indian Country Counts" Census Campaign

Census Bureau Reaffirms Commitment to Working with American Indians and Alaska Natives to Ensure Accurate 2010 Count

PALM SPRINGS, CA-October 12, 2009-The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest organization representing tribal governments, formally launched its 2010 Census Campaign, "Indian Country Counts," at a press conference during its Annual Convention in Palm Springs, CA. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves signed a reaffirmation of the Census Bureau's first American Indian and Alaska Native Policy statement.

"It is an honor for me to reaffirm the Census Bureau's commitment to the American Indian and Alaska Native people," said Groves. "The key to an accurate count in the 2010 Census is the active involvement of this organization and each of its members. We have a very strong campaign to reach and inspire American Indians and Alaska Natives to participate in the census, and we appreciate all of your support in making the census a success."

NCAI President Joe Garcia noted the importance of counting every American Indian and Alaska Native in the 2010 Count.

"The numbers that come out of the 2010 Census will affect policy and human service programs for Native communities for generations to come," said Garcia. "A true Indian count is just one of the steps tribes must take on the path to regaining our economic, social, and governmental strength as Native people. This data directs billions of dollars in federal funding that flows into Indian Country. Often the most vulnerable are the hardest to count, and consequently end up missing out on the resources they need."

James Steele, Jr., Chairman of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes reiterated the importance of direct community involvement in the 2010 campaign.

"There are many important reasons we should all be a part of this campaign and think about our own strategies," said Steele. "There are many ways to be involved, and we each know our communities the best. Only we can really assure our members that it's worth our time, and that personal census information will not be shared with anybody - not landlords, housing authorities, any law enforcement or any other agency."

The National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC), the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), and the National Council on Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) have also shown their support for the 2010 Census campaign in Indian Country.

"Nowhere is the Census information more important than in the area of Indian housing," said NAIHC Chairman Marty Shuravloff. "The number of American Indians and Alaska Natives, their income levels, the cost of housing, housing conditions, and the number of individuals living in crowded conditions all count toward how much money a tribe receives to help overcome the deplorable housing conditions that exist within Native American communities. So much is riding on a complete and accurate response to the Census."

Not only does census data determine funding for Indian housing, it also has a great impact on health services in Native communities.

"Diabetes, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and obesity are only few of the health problems we are facing, and the critical funding to provide for health care services will not happen unless you and your family are counted in the 2010 Census," said Reno Keoni Franklin, Chairman of the NIHB. "This is your opportunity to help make a difference. Please make sure everyone is counted, because your health counts!"

The future of Indian Country also depends on the Census count, including adequate services for family and youth.

"NICWA encourages Native families to respond to the Census and to be recognized in every city, reservation, town, village, and pueblo," said NICWA Executive Director Terry L. Cross, MSW, LCSW, ACSW. "Funding for the programs and services that build healthy Native families and protect our children and youth often use Census demographic information. We look forward to our American Indian and Alaska Native families being represented accurately during the census."

For more information on NCAI's 2010 Census Campaign, please

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