By: Lani Hansen, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– As the US Census 2020 Project approaches, Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s census count committee wants to make sure the word is getting out for citizens to apply.
The US Census is operated by the United States government, where every ten years they count all the people throughout the nation. According to Tara Branson-Thomas Director for Planning Grants and Self Governance, this has been going on since the late 1800’s.
“We have had our own counts as Muscogee (Creek) Nation in different ways,” Thomas said. “They have documented where we live and who is in our homes. So this is an opportunity for the government to come through again and count all those who are in homes, communities, non-Indian and Indian alike and really just gathering information about the folks living in those homes.”
The census survey is only nine questions, where some people have experienced a longer survey which is an American community survey. The American community survey is operated by the Census Bureau which happens in between the decennial census.
“This year is a big one because the government uses the data from the Census Bureau to make decisions like, how to portion the US representatives so it is important to the State of Oklahoma so that we can retain all five of our representatives,” Thomas said. “Or it is often used as source data for distribution of federal funding to both states and tribes. So the US Census said that for every person who is counted, the tribal government and state government will receive $1,200 a person.”
“For Muscogee Nation it could be so important to get out as we should, not only is it our duty as a citizen of the United States but as a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation,” Brant Beaver Planner for Planning Grants said.
In order to be counted for the census, every household will receive a postcard that has information to fill out the census electronically or on the telephone. A code will come on the postcard for the address it was sent too. Thomas said, they ask families who have Creek citizens to list them as head of household and indicate they are Muscogee (Creek).
Beaver said, when they ask for tribal affiliation to write down Creek Nation and what that does it counts as the Creek Nation people.
“We are inviting everyone to be counted and to be honest,” Thomas said. “So even if your household has multiple families, everyone in that household can be counted at that address. That information is aggragated so it is not provided to any federal entities that multiple families are living in that household unit.”
The US Census count is important for Native people to illustrate to local and state government that American Indians are still living here, they still associate with tribal government, citizens of those governments and they do vote. This does not specifically tie those to any party, it does not register someone to vote but being present and showing a population it illustrates that Native people can vote.
“We want our presence known, this is our count not only as Creek citizens but as Native Americans overall,” Beaver said. “Right now we have three of the four biggest tribes in the Nation residing here in Oklahoma. With our numbers we are letting them know the federal funding still needs to come through here, not only does it help us but it also helps the state of Oklahoma.”
For more information visit 2020census.gov.