TRT Gains National Attention with ‘Hoopa-Style’ Census Ad
By Lorencita Lavine, Two Rivers Tribune
The Hoopa Valley Tribe is no stranger to national recognition, but the community of Hoopa has certainly lacked its share of the spotlight with regards to positive media attention, until now. The year 2010 marks another U.S. Census count, and while there was a greater attempt this go-around in gaining support and participation from minority groups and those “forgotten” and “left out,” for many Native American communities, the attempt seems lackluster.
When Two Rivers Tribune Advertising Clerk, Connie J. Davis, saw the advertisement sent by the G & G Advertising — a company subcontracted by the U.S. Census Bureau to create advertisements targeting Native communities for publication — her wheels started turning.
“My immediate reaction was, ‘there’s no way we can print those!’ I was so shocked. None of the ads they sent us reflected our region,” said Davis.
She called G & G and explained to them how the ads — some of which depicted Plains Indians with tee-pees in the background– were offensive to the Native people in the Klamath-Trinity region, of whom the newspaper services. They sent alternatives, however, those too, were offensive.
Then in early February, representatives from New American Media–a group specializing in ethnic media–contacted the Two Rivers Tribune and arranged to meet with staff.
“The meeting was very successful, and the result was that they offered to pay for advertising space if we would create Census ads to better reflect the region,” said a Two Rivers Tribune rep. “We were one of very few ethnic media outlets to receive census ad campaigns.”
The Two Rivers Tribune creative staff began brainstorming and came up with four advertisements reflecting the various Tribes in the region; Hoopa, Yurok, and Karuk.
“It really was a group effort in coming up with the right themes and imagery” said one Two Rivers Tribune staffer, “Our region is so unique and isolated, I just couldn’t see us printing advertisements depicting ‘generalized’ Indians or themes. We wanted to portray a message about standing up for what is important to the people of the Klamath-Trinity region–our salmon, our rivers, and our heritage. That’s really the only way to reach the people on the importance of participating in the Census.”
In February, Sandy Close, of New American Media, attended a congressional Census subcommittee meeting where she shared on an overhead projector the Two Rivers Tribune Census ad depicting a Hoopa Man in full traditional regalia overlooking the Hoopa Valley with the headline, “Save our Water, Save Our Way of Life–Stand Up and Be Counted! Census 2010.” They were impressed.
Another media outlet, sandiegonewsnetwork.com, which recently posted an article regarding the Census Bureau being under fire for spending millions of dollars in marketing, quoted Close as saying, “That kind of unique messaging [Hoopa ads] will ‘move the needle those extra percentage points that will pay off in hundreds of millions of dollars.'”
A post on Native American website bluecorncomics.com says, “My position was that the [Census] Bureau should be creating a slew of these local, Hoopa-style messages. And then disseminating them through every available means. Especially the Internet.”
And although the majority of Americans have now been counted, there is still a last ditch effort to send Census workers to the far reaches of this nation, to the forgotten patches of land, to the lonely hillsides, and to the tiny little reservations whose people may be often overlooked, but whose voices won’t go unheard.