ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Lisa Murkowski and other U.S. Senators are sounding off about their concerns over the possible unforeseen impacts of the 2020 Census on tribal communities.
“With 92,000 Alaska Natives living in ‘hard to count’ communities, I urge my colleagues to consider the negative impacts that an undercount can have on rural Alaska and Indian Country as we are preparing for the 2020 Census,” Murkowski said in a written statement Wednesday.
Two other Senators have joined in on Murkowski's call for recognition of challenges in collecting Census data from rural areas. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) both say they're concerned and will be requesting information on the Census Bureau's plan to ensure an accurate and cost-effective 2020 Census count in Tribal communities.
Sen. Murkowski said in the statement that accurate data collection in rural areas is vital to ensuring accurate results that will ultimately determine how much federal funding for things like housing programs, healthcare, job training, social services, and other government-backed programs are granted.
"Unfortunately, due to their remote nature, language barriers, lack of access to telephones and internet, and often non-tradition mailing addresses, getting accurate Census data in rural Alaska and throughout Indian Country is no simple task,” Murkowski said.
The worry shared by Sen. Murkowski and others is that this could be a sign that Native and Indian communities are not being given the same equal treatment and representation as other U.S. citizens.
Murkowski said that there are over 92,000 natives currently living in "Hard to Count Communities" in Alaska.