Census 2020 representatives with FHBC Chairman Ladd Edmo, Miss Shoshone-Bannock
Stormie Perdash and local tribal members.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Census 2020 Kick-Off Event “First Count Fort Hall” was Friday, March 13.
Randy’L Teton, Public Affairs Director, served in the capacity of moderator for Denell Broncho, Tribal Census Liaison, was absent because of a sinus infection.
Teton said they planned for the event for over a month and were hoping to fill the seats, but because of restrictions from the COVID-19 many had opted not to attend. However, she thanked all those in attendance.
The event began with a flag and honor song by the Spring Creek Singers with colors posted by Gifferd Osborne along with veterans Reggie Thorpe (U.S. Marines) and Darrell Archuleta (U.S. Army).
Fort Hall Business Council in attendance were Chairman Ladd Edmo and Secretary Donna Thompson.
Lenora Lavatta spoke from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Complete Count Committee, which is a group devoted to ensuring the people have an opportunity to understand the Census and help facilitate an accurate count. The committee planned to do District Enumeration Stations, but because of COVID-19 restrictions have been postponed. The committee will update everyone when activities resume for the 2020 Census. They encourage everyone to go online to my20202census.gov to complete the questionnaire.
The Tribal Complete Count Committee members include Census Liaison Denell Broncho, Lenora Lavatta, Sunny Stone, Jacki Wynn, Shirley Alvarez, Carolyn Torrescillas, Whitney Burns, Randy’L Teton, Myra Fred and Mike Stone, Sunflicker, who they hired to do three PSA’s, which were shown during the celebration. They hope to get them shown on local television stations.
Chairman Edmo welcomed everyone on behalf of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Fort Hall Business Council and acknowledged the efforts of the Census representatives present, Deputy Regional Director Jeffrey Enos, Tribal Census Coordinator Shana Radford, CFS Supervisor from Pocatello Manuel A. Padilla, and Recruiting Assistant/Census Response Rep Becky Jorgensen.
Chairman Edmo thanked everyone for their participation. He emphasized they do need to be counted in the Census because it benefits them as a people and helps with funding.
“If we don’t get counted, we’re losing out,” said Edmo. “Let everyone else know it’s important to be counted – so that we can benefit from this.”
Miss Shoshone-Bannock Stormie Perdash explained the Census shows the growth of the community and as a tribe and helps with programs and services in Fort Hall. She encouraged participation in order to help the community.
U.S. Census Bureau remarks were given by Jeffrey Enos, Deputy Regional Director from the Los Angeles Office, who explained Fort Hall was chosen to be the first site in Idaho to be counted due to their great partnership they’ve had with the Census Bureau, the energy they had and the engagement with them to make sure the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is fully counted.
Enos said, “Today we join together in an important moment in the history as we kick off our first counts of the 2020 Census in the lands of our first people. For the Census Bureau enumeration is the act of counting the population.” He explained it’s done every 10 years and their goal is a complete and accurate count.
He talked about how historically American Indians have had an undercount and they want to ensure that doesn’t happen in 2020.
“A complete count of American Indians contributes to better planning and decision making for Indian Country and it helps determine how billions of dollars in federal funding is distributed into tribal communities,” he said. He added it also helps determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A statement from Tribal Census Liaison Denell Broncho was read acknowledging the efforts of the Tribal Complete Count Committee and the relationship with key partners, including the Census representatives, as well as contribution from Hal Hayball, GIS Analyst and Brooks Davis, who facilitate the Tribal Fast Command system and have worked developing and implementing the Reservation Rural Addressing Index. She also acknowledged the FHBC for their proclamation and support, the Idaho Community Foundation, Sunflicker, owned by Mike Stone for the PSA’s and the work of the Tribal Complete Count Committee, who’ve devoted hours of their time to planning, prepping, distributing and facilitating outreach events.
Louise Dixey, Language & Culture Director educated the audience on how the Census has impacted the tribal people.
From 1790 to 1820 the first enumeration began. She talked about how it changed over the years to being handwritten on paper to standardized forms used throughout the United States. When the standardized forms were developed the only ones who were taken Census of were free white males of 16 years or older, free white males under 16, free white females and all other freed persons by sex and color and slaves.
In 1860 was the first time American Indians and Alaska Natives were counted as a separate population category. From 1890 all the way to 1950 the enumerators had to determine who were the Indians. From 1960 to 1970 the tribal people were able to self-identify. From 1790 to the 1970s all Indian tribes were not counted, nor were they approached for being counted. In 1980 the Census Bureau finally actively sought American Indian and Alaska Native input. In 1990 the tribal government program was developed.
Dixey said there have been a lot of efforts by the Tribes to stay actively involved in the Census and in the voting process. She said after the treaties were signed and they were moved to reservations Indian became wards of the federal government and were placed under the supervision of the War Department initially. After they were then placed under the Department of the Interior. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was responsible for accounting for the people and serve as the trustee for the Native people.
Dixey talked about how the Shoshone and Bannock people fall under the Fort Bridger Treaty. She said the Census listed the head of household, name of spouse, number of children, identified their sex, for the purpose of distributing goods or rations, not for the Census as it’s known today. It was set to fill the purpose of the treaty.
Tribal Census Coordinator Shana Radford thanked the Tribes for inviting her to attend and said they would proceed the first count for Idaho with the tribal elder selected Louida Ingawanup Unger. She explained participation in the Census is confidential and protected by law, therefore it would be a private event.
Louida Ingawanup Unger was selected to be counted for Fort Hall and was excited about the honor and said it was important to be counted. She encourages all her relatives and everyone to participate because she says it’s a help to the tribe.
She was raised on the Fort Hall Reservation all her life and went to boarding school where she learned a lot, but didn’t like that she couldn’t speak her Bannock language. She continues to teach the younger generation the language today and hopes to see it carry on.
Teton said they chose her as the elder to represent Fort Hall due to her age and her involvement in the community.
“We’re just really happy that she accepted our invitation to be one of our elders to be first counted and that’s awesome for our reservation and for the state of Idaho,” she said.