Beat the Drum. Be Counted!
You have read about the challenges faced by so many on Native reservations. You have supported programs to help Native children and their families, and built sustainable programs that will help communities for generations.
So you will understand what we are about to share is so important.
We are excited to announce that we are launching a major new effort with the U.S. Census Bureau to strive to make sure every Native American, both living on reservations and off, takes part in the 2020 Census with our Beat the Drum. Be Counted! initiative.
Native Americans were under counted by about 4.9 percent in the 2010 Census — more than double the undercount rate of the next closest group. This inaccuracy costs millions of annual tax dollars to Indian Country that would otherwise be used to improve public programs such as elementary schools and roads.
Our own national spokesperson and Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills will be leading our effort to get the word out in communities across Indian Country about the importance of increasing the accuracy of the 2020 Census which is used to decide federal funding for government services.
“The Census makes a real impact in people’s lives,“ says Billy. “You can feel it in understaffed health clinics and see it in everything from roads to veterans’ support to housing assistance. As an American who went to public schools and served our country, I know firsthand how much we rely on these programs.”
Right now, Billy is working to create public service announcements encouraging Native communities to complete their census forms. In the spring, our field staff will be getting the word out through programs on the Lakota radio station KILI Radio.
In addition, we will be partnering with our Dreamstarter Teachers to provide a census supplement for their classrooms and to take home to their parents emphasizing the importance of completing their census forms. We will also research Native colleges for interest in sharing our census awareness materials.
We will also sponsor a “Be Counted” event at our affiliate on Pine Ridge, the OyateTeca Project, for folks to come in and fill out their forms and gain information on this nationwide civic event.
The importance of ensuring that every Native American completes their census form cannot be understated as millions and millions of dollars throughout Indian Country hang in the balance for the next 10 years.
“Everyone deserves to be counted – and that starts in our Native American communities,” notes Billy.