"I am Native and I Count!" census logo.
By DANA HERNANDEZ
FORT HALL — United States Census 2020 is upon us, so what does this mean for the residents of the Fort Hall community?
It means residents will have an opportunity to respond to a census survey, which will begin about mid-March and end on April 1, 2020. The official Census Day is April 1, 2020.
Denell Broncho is the Tribal Census Liaison and also the TERO Director — she offered information regarding the 2020 Census.
The Census affects our community in two ways, one, it portrays a people count of how many people self-identify as Shoshone-Bannock and two, it gives us a geographical count, which will reflect how many people live within the reservation boundaries, no matter their race, color or citizenship. It is important to get an accurate count so Tribal leaders and managers for the tribal government can plan and prepare for membership or community needs.
All responses are kept confidential in the aspect that no personal identification will be shared and people’s names will not be released or shared with any other agency.
In regards to the Fort Hall Reservation Census, only a list of all the local addresses was provided to the U.S Census Bureau by the Tribe — not identifying people by names, but by a list of thousands of reservation addresses.
The best way for the Fort Hall community to participate is to respond to the census survey. Each home will receive a 10-question Census Survey around mid-March of 2020. The head of the household can choose to fill out and mail in the survey form, respond online, call a toll-free-number, or wait for a Census Enumerator to make an in-person visit. A Census Enumerator is the person who conducts the census survey and generally does it door-to-door.
If a person elects to be visited by a Census Enumerator, they should expect the survey to take no longer than 20-30 minutes, depending on how many people are living in the household.
The Census for 2020 is simplified because there is only 10 questions: name, address, are you a renter or a home owner, phone number, date of birth, sex, race or Hispanic origin, who else resides in the household or living quarters, what is the relationship of those living in the household or living quarter, what is the relationship of those living in the household or living quarter?
The Census is important because it is a count of all the people residing in the USA, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and is mandated by the US Constitution every 10 years, which is called a decennial census.
The reason for the census count is for apportionment or pieces of the federal pie. Apportionment determines the number of U.S. Representatives every state gets, where to add school districts, voting polls, and the distribution of funding that each state, tribes, and local governments receive for education, health care, transportation and housing.
Broncho gave some insights on people who don’t have normal living situations, such as a non-permanent residence or those who are incarcerated. She said, “Native communities in general are considered hard to count because of shared characteristics — poverty, lower educational attainment, housing insecurity, and age. Native people don’t generally declare themselves homeless because they tend to stay with relatives. It is the reason that when Census Day comes, each and every person staying at the house, whether they are related to the head of household or not, need to be counted.”
She said persons who are incarcerated on Census Day will be counted by the facility housing them. Persons residing in boarding schools or college dormitories will be counted by the educational institution, also, it is the same with Veterans homes/hospitals. These institutions will count them on April 1, 2020.
In regards to the employment opportunities the Census of 2020 offers, Broncho added, “in our geographical area of southeast Idaho, the US Census Bureau will be hiring up to 20-30 enumerators by January 2020. Presently there are five applicants from the Fort Hall community who are being considered for the enumerator positions. The Fort Hall reservation encompasses two census districts, the Bingham county and north, and the Bannock county and south.”
Anyone interested in helping with the Census is encouraged to contact TERO or apply online at www.2020census.gov/jobs or by calling 1-855-JOB-2020. The recruiting assistant for the Fort Hall Community is Changmi Jeong, she can be contacted at 505-205-3169.