Completing the U.S. Census form is critically important to your tribe

This article appeared in the August 2020 edition of the Chickasaw Times

The decennial U.S. Census is being conducted this year. The U.S. Constitution directs the federal government to count all Americans every 10 years.

The 2020 Census is critically important to the Chickasaw Nation, and to all the federally-recognized tribes across the country. It is difficult to overstate the importance of each of us responding to the U.S. Census Bureau’s requests for some very basic information.

As Chickasaw citizens, you and I can together make a huge and positive impact on our tribe by simply completing the Census form. The form is simple and takes only a few minutes to complete. But its importance is enormous.

This year, the deadline to respond to the Census has been extended to October 31. The rise of the public health crisis in our country has greatly limited person-to-person contact by Census workers. However, we can respond by mail, phone or online.

You have probably received a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau at your home. If you have, you can simply complete the sections, place the form in the postage paid envelope provided, and mail back. If you would like to complete the census form online, simply go to and you will find it quick and easy.

If you prefer to call and provide your answers over the phone, the Census Bureau has operators ready for your call 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day. The toll-free number is 844-330-2020.

All the information you provide is protected.

It is our duty – as Americans and as Chickasaws – to complete the form and get it to the Census Bureau. With your information, and that of millions of other Americans, the federal government determines apportionment of trillions of dollars of federal spending. These funds are directed to housing programs, health care, schools, roads and bridges and so much more.

The bottom line is the more Chickasaws who complete the Census form, the more resources our tribe can access for the important programs, services and infrastructure projects we all count on.

Indian citizens are historically undercounted during the Census. This is particularly true of citizens living on reservations, but the undercount stretches across Indian Country. The Census Bureau has made the counting of Indian citizens a priority for 2020, and we are all hopeful this year’s Census is truly representative. But we must do our part for it to be successful.

The Census form will ask you general questions about your home, your family and how many people live at your address. They will want to know if you own your home or rent. This information impacts the allocation of federal housing dollars.

The most important section for us is “race or ethnicity.” You are provided answers from which to choose, and all Chickasaws should choose “American Indian.” In the box immediately below that question, the form seeks your tribal affiliation. It is extremely important you complete this section by entering the word “Chickasaw.”

Federal agencies use all this information to plan and fund government programs. The more Chickasaws identified on the Census form, the more resources directed our way.

Remember, there are three very easy ways to respond to the census: mail, phone and online. Each is simple and takes only a few minutes.

Let’s all join together – as Americans and as Chickasaws – and do our patriotic duty as set out in the U.S. Constitution. Please be counted! It is absolutely the right thing to do for your family, your tribe and your country.