Native American organizations, Navajo Nation urge census participation

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Three national Native American organizations are collaborating to heighten awareness among tribal members about participating in the 2020 census.

The National Congress of American Indians, the National Urban Indian Family Coalition and the Native American Rights Fund announced its partnership to ensure Native Americans and Alaska Natives are accurately counted.

With Native American and Alaska Natives among the hardest to count, due to barriers such as geography, language and access to technology, the organizations are providing information about the once-a-decade count and explaining the importance of participating.

"This partnership is formulated out of the grave necessity to ensure a complete and accurate count in Indian Country. The American Indian and Alaska Native demographic made up the largest racial undercount in the 2010 census at nearly 5%, with estimates even higher in many Alaska Native villages," the press release announcing the alliance stated.

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The group stated the undercount caused a shortfall in resources for communities and a "lack of representation in the decision-making process."

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne and Speaker Seth Damon sign a proclamation that focuses on the census on Feb. 20 in Window Rock, Arizona.

The release states the coalition will provide information materials, technical assistance and resources to communities located on reservations or in urban areas.

The National Congress of American Indians has a website dedicated to the effort,, as well as the Nation Urban Indian Family Coalition at

Beginning on March 12, households will start receiving the census questionnaire and can respond by mail, telephone or online.

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Navajo Nation gears up for census

Leadership on the Navajo Nation is making similar efforts to inform members about census participation.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Speaker Seth Damon and Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne signed on Feb. 20 a proclamation focusing on the census and participation by tribal members.

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The proclamation mentions that the tribe will distribute information about the census, participate in events that increase awareness, provide advocates to speak at chapters and local events, support the work of census takers and encourage participation.

"The people's participation and response help shape how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed each year for tribal programs and grants," Nez said.

Speaker Seth Damon speaks at a Feb. 20 signing ceremony for a proclamation to raise awareness and participation in the census.

He added that the census also determines redistricting for congressional, state and county elections.

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Damon called on tribal members, regardless of where they reside, to take part in the census.

"With this proclamation, we want to keep spreading the message that the 2020 census form should be filled out and submitted by every household on the Navajo Nation," the speaker said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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