LISTEN: Alaska Federation of Natives opposes cutting census count short

An aerial view of Toksook Bay, showing snow-covered houses in a compact village with snowy sea ice in the foreground.
Counting for the 2020 Census began in January 21 in Toksook Bay (Photo U.S. Census Bureau)

The Alaska Federation of Natives is raising the alarm about the Census Bureau’s plan to end its once-a-decade count of everyone living in the United States a month earlier than expected.

Federal programs rely on census data in determining where billions of dollars get spent. And in rural Alaska, home to many predominantly Native communities, getting an accurate count is notoriously difficult.

Related: Alaska lags far behind rest of country on Census response

AFN Vice President and General Counsel Nicole Borromeo says the federal government has a legal obligation to get it right. Borromeo says every person who does not fill out the census amounts to roughly 3,500 fewer federal dollars a year flowing into the state, or about $35,000 per person during the decade-long wait until the next census.