By Ledyard King
Native American leaders and Census Bureau officials have been working for months to promote the constitutionally required, once-every-decade tabulation of America's population, which begins in March with mailings of millions of census forms. The count determines how many seats in Congress each state gets and how billions in government money are doled out through formula-driven programs and services.
The Oneida tribe—whose members were undercounted in the 2000 census—is emphasizing the importance of filling out the census forms correctly, identifying the specific name of the tribe.
Only about 900 members of the tribe were counted in the country, a far cry from the about 14,500 people who were enrolled members at the time, because many were lumped in with members of the Oneida Nation in New York. The undercounting was only discovered after the forms were returned.
Education efforts already have begun to get tribal members to write "Oneida Tribe of WI" on their forms after checking off the section on race identifying American Indian or Alaska Native.
For more on the subject, see Video of My Census Meeting and Census Info Not Reaching Natives.