Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Why Native people 'need to count' in the 2020 census


October 6, 2020

In this Jan. 20, 2020, photo, census workers verify that their maps match the right number of houses in Toksook Bay, Alaska, a mostly Yup'ik village on the edge of the Bering Sea. Census workers traditionally begin the official decennial count in rural Alaska when the ground is still frozen. That allows easier access before the spring melt makes many areas inaccessible to travel, and residents scatter to subsistence hunting and fishing grounds. The rest of the nation, including more urban areas of Alaska, begin the census in mid-March. (Gregory Bull/AP)

When Ramona Bennett became a member of the Puyallup Tribal Council in 1968, she wanted to see change. The tribe had no health clinic, no school, no large source of income like the casino they currently own.

They didn't even own their cemetery. "This tribe literally had nothing," she recalled. At the time, the Puyallup Tribe was down to about 170 enrolled members, a stark contrast to the more than 5,000 it has today.

"We had no services, none whatsoever, and no recognized rights," said Bennett, who wanted the tribe to have a clinic and a school. Both required money it didn't have, so she set out to apply for grants. That, she soon realized, was an issue in itself.


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