Census undercount may lead to less funding for Tlingit and Haida

The Andrew Hope building houses offices for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska in Juneau. (Courtesy of CCTHITA)

Southeast Alaska’s largest tribe is reminding citizens that it could see a loss in funding if they don’t report in the 2020 census.

Tlingit and Haida President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson said at last count, a little over 40 percent of tribal citizens have reported in the census.

He also says there was an undercount in the 2010 census — which impacted housing in a very real way.

“Throughout Alaska, we have seen a reduction in housing because the census didn’t accurately reflect the need in the communities,” he said.

Peterson says much of the federal funding the tribe receives is dependent on the census. Many of the basic services the tribe has for citizens depend on this funding. If only 50 percent of citizens report, the tribe only receives 50 percent of the funding.

“Whether it’s health or social services, public protection, public safety, education, it all falls back to the census. So, you know, if you think it doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong,” he said.

Peterson encourages all tribal citizens to go to the census website and answer a simple set of questions.

“Again, it benefits everybody to have accurate numbers so that accurate funding goes into our communities,” said Peterson.