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What is the census?

Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone living in the country on April 1. Our tribes do not share enrollment numbers with the government, so it is important for all American Indians and Alaska Natives to participate in the 2020 Census.

What’s in it for me?

The 2020 Census is an opportunity to provide a better future for our communities and future generations. By participating in the 2020 Census, you help provide an accurate count of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Your responses to the 2020 Census can help shape how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed each year for programs and grants in our communities.
The 2020 Census is our count. Our responses matter. Regardless of age, nationality, ethnicity, or where we live, we all need to be counted.

Q. Who should complete the census questionnaire?
A. One person in the home should complete the questionnaire and include every person living there, including relatives, nonrelatives, babies, and children.

Q. How can I answer the race question?

A. An individual’s response is based upon self-identification. You may mark one or more of the race categories and/or enter multiple tribes or multiple detailed groups.Each write-in area will record up to 200characters and up to six detailed groups.

Q. What kind of assistance is available to help people complete the questionnaire?

A. Assistance responding to the2020 Census will be available on2020census.gov and via our toll-freephone number. Language guides, language glossaries, and language identification cards will be available in 59 non-English languages. Large-print guides to the questionnaire will also be available upon request, as well as telephone devices for hearing impaired. On 2020census.gov, video tutorials and how-to resources can help you complete your census form.Many communities, partners, and local organizations will also provide assistance.

Q. How does the Census Bureau count people without a permanent residence?
A. Census Bureau employees work extensively to take in-person counts of people living in group housing, like college dormitories and shelters, as well as those experiencing homelessness or who have been displaced by natural disasters.

Information for American Indians and Alaska Natives

How should I respond to the race question if I am American Indian or Alaska Native?

An individual’s response to the 2020 Census race question is based upon self-identification. The U.S. Census Bureau does not tell individuals which boxes to mark or what heritage to write in.

People who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native may mark the American Indian or Alaska Native checkbox and enter the name of their enrolled or principal tribe(s) in the write-in area.

People may report multiple races and/or report multiple detailed groups. Each specific write-in area will record up to 200 characters and up to 6 detailed groups, allowing for long names and multiple groups to be reported.

Improvements to the 2020 race question.
Several question design improvements were made to help improve reporting of detailed American Indian and Alaska Native identities.

  • Examples included for the “American Indian or Alaska Native” checkbox category.
  • Detailed American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and indigenous Central and South American responses collected via a dedicated write-in area.

Identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native on the census is a matter of self-identification.

The Census Bureau collects race data in accordance with the 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards on race and ethnicity. The 1997 OMB standards define “American Indian or Alaska Native” as “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.”

Why does the census ask a question about race?

The question on race is asked of all people in the United States. These data are required for federal, state, and tribal programs and are critical factors in the basic research behind numerous policies, particularly for civil rights. Race data are used in planning and funding government programs that provide funds or services for specific groups.

These data are also used to evaluate government programs and policies to ensure they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all racial groups and to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws, regulations, and policies. States also use these data to meet legislative redistricting requirements.

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