There's still time to respond
COVID-19 presented a challenge for the 2020 Census, but one thing hasn't changed: an accurate count for Native American communities remains as crucial as ever. Shelly Diaz is the Mille Lacs Band’s Urban Liaison and Project Coordinator, and Coordinator of Minnesota Tribal Coalition (Hub) for the 2020 US Census. Shelly has been working diligently for over one year and through the pandemic on getting the message out to all Mille Lacs Band members to fill out and return their census.
"It’s our right as a sovereign nation to be counted accurately in the census, and this year’s count will affect our community and nation for the next 10 years," Shelly said. "We need to make sure that every person from our tiniest babies to our eldest Elders, and everyone in between are counted."
Billions of dollars of federal funding are based on census data, and representation in the state and federal governments also depend on an accurate count. "Bottom line: If we’re undercounted, the Mille Lacs Band’s share of federal funding may be reduced and/or we may lose a seat in Congress!" Shelly said.
The time is running out! All census responses must be received by September 30. Shelly is determined to make sure that every Mille Lacs Band member is counted. The good news: There's still time!
Representatives from the Band working with Shelly have been out to the Elder food distribution sites helping people fill out the census on the spot and giving away free t-shirts, water bottles, masks, and more. Shelly is getting a new shipment of Census swag for the final push to make sure every Band member is counted.
"Now more than ever we need to get an accurate count of all Native Americans," Shelly said. "We need to show the world we are not invisible but rather we are invincible. Indian Country Counts. Please fill out your census. It is our sovereign right."