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Despite social distancing, Native American families will still be counted this year

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Thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, thousands of Native Americans throughout Indian Country are prepared to overturn undercounting in the 2020 U.S. Census.

For the past several weeks, U.S. Census forms have been mailed out across the country with a requested response date of today, April 1, and thanks to our supporters several of our partners have received Chromebooks allowing their clients and Native parents to conveniently complete their forms online.

Among them is Halay Turning Heart, program director of the Yuchi Language Project in Oklahoma who has used their Chromebook to post census outreach materials on their website and submit census info for their staff and families.

“As always we truly appreciate this long-standing partnership with Running Strong and we pray for the rapid disappearance of this virus across the Indigenous world,” she said.

At the Department of Indian Work in St. Paul, Minnesota, Kelly Miller reported they will be checking with their clients if they need help with the census and ensuring they are aware of the availability of the Chromebook for use to submit their census form.

“We are brainstorming ideas and another one we discussed was creating a flyer to put into the food boxes letting our families know if they need help with the census,” reported Kelly, who also welcomed suggestions on what our other partners are doing to assist families in submitting their census forms.

Cheryl Kary of the Sacred Pipe Resource Center in North Dakota reported that they had held two census submission events before the statewide request went into effect.

“We just made sure we cleaned the computer keyboard and had sanitizer and that we keep a decent distance between computers,” Cheryl told us.

“While the pandemic has certainly put a damper on things at the moment, our tribes and tribal communities are still hoping to move forward with our census efforts,” she added. “As those protocols become more normalized, we plan to pick up where we left off.

“Thanks again so much to Running Strong. These are weird times but you guys are always so responsive to needs anyway, it’s awesome!”

Lucille Echohawk of the Denver Indian Family Resource Center acknowledged that while so much has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic they are continuing its operations while limiting contact with clients.

“Our intent is to move forward with the Running Strong “Beat the Drum. Be Counted” census project April 1-17, minus the census party atmosphere and census bingo,” she told us. “Instead, we will advertise via Facebook and DIFRC’s website and utilizing the posters and PSA videos that have been provided.”

She noted that they have requested that their clients call before coming in to submit their census on the Chromebook in order to limit contact between individuals “and keep us all safe.”

The Native American community has historically been undercounted in previous U.S. census counts, but this year, thanks to the supporters of Running Strong, thousands more of Native Americans will be counted as they should be to ensure their tribal communities receive their fair share of resources from the federal government for the next decade.

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