By Casey Brown of the CUJ
UMATILLA INDIAN RESERVATION – The 2020 Census continues rain, shine, or pandemic.
The decennial count of every person in the county reached “an important milestone” on April 28, according to Shana Radford, tribal partnership lead for Oregon and Idaho. She said that half of all households in the nation have responded to the 2020 Census.
She has also been tracking the responses from Oregon’s nine tribes. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation(CTUIR) are in third. The Coquille Indian Tribe has the highest rate of responses, and Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians rank second.
“The US Census has pushed the last day of response to October 31, 2020. CTUIR has been maintaining 3rd place out of all 9 Oregon Tribes. National average is 56.6% right now and I would like to challenge our Tribe and community to meet at least a 50% response rate by May 31st!” Elfrina Lubrin said.
Lubrin is the chair of CTUIR’s Tribal Complete Count Committee and administrative office manager in Enrollment. She reminds respondents to list their tribe. CTUIR members will use “Umatilla Tribe,” while Indians from other nations will need with their Enrollment office.
CTUIR is about 12 percentage points behind where they finished in the 2010 Census. However, Radford and members of the Tribal Complete Count Committee are working to insure 2020 numbers eclipse 2010’s record.
Final response rate fell short of a complete count by 40%, and they believe that CTUIR tribal members can do better than that, especially since this year is the first year tribal members can respond to the Census online.
All households are required to respond to the Census. Responses can be filed online using the unique household identifier, over the phone by calling 844-330-2020, or by filling out the paper forms received in the mail.
For special circumstances such as people who are homeless, college students, and military personnel, visit 2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html.
The Census Bureau announced May 5 that some field operations will resume, in coordination with federal, state, and local health officials. They will engage in a “phased restart.” However, according to the Census Bureau, field operations are not scheduled to resume in Oregon yet.
Radford says the field office is in contact with both Update Leave Tribes in her region. One of which is the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
“The health and safety of Census Bureau staff and the public is of the utmost importance. All returning staff will receive safety training to observe social distancing protocols in the COVID-19 environment,” according to 2020census.gov, which also states that staff, whether in the field or in an office, will wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
CTUIR tribal members can get assistance locally from Lubrin at 541-429-7035 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.