Tribal Census Crews Headed to Every Home in Hoopa

Rick Anderson, CEO of Tribal Data Resources, center, demonstrated the new tablet computers for the census project in Hoopa’s Office of Vital Statistics on Tuesday, November 19, while Enumerators Deacon Ferris, left, and Kayla Brown, center left, asked questions. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

Census workers are preparing to visit every home and count everyone in the Hoopa Valley. On Tuesday, November 19, they gathered to go over last-minute details.

The workers, known as enumerators, will use the latest technology to keep track of every person and every pet in homes throughout the Hoopa Valley.

Enumerator Verla Jackson-Robbins said, “We’re going to cover the whole Hoopa Valley, and count everyone, both tribal and non-tribal.”

Loretta Doolittle, another enumerator on the project, worked on a census before – for the U.S. Census in 2000 – but said a lot has changed since then.

“It’s very exciting to see everything put into the computers for all of the departments to access,” Doolittle said. “It’s a big step up.”

The Tribe-sponsored demographic survey is designed to counteract what observers claimed were undercounts of tribal members during the 2010 U.S. Census and its follow-up economic survey.

Pamela Ames, former partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau during the 2010 Census, said, “I believe that there’s an undercount of 500 to 1,000 people.”

Undercounts can lead to reduced funding for federal, state, local, and tribal programs, which in turn can lead to reduced services for local residents.

Tribal Chairperson Danielle Vigil-Masten sent out a letter to residents of the Hoopa Valley, explaining the importance of the survey.

“At this time we do not have the kind of participant household information necessary to apply for the desired funding,” Vigil-Masten wrote, and asked residents to actively participate in the survey.

Each member of the Hoopa census crew will use a small hand-held tablet computer to keep track of the information they gather. The tablets can also take pictures and use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to mark the exact location of each home in the valley.

Rick Anderson, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tribal Data Resources, said, “It’ll help later with the tribe’s 911 emergency response system to get ambulances and fire crews out to the right places in an emergency.”

Norma McAdams, coordinator for Hoopa’s Office of Vital Statistics (OVS), said they plan to go district-by-district through the valley’s eight districts. “We’ll not only be going door-to-door, but we’ll be calling people on the phone too.”

The census includes questions to help determine the needs of people in the valley, from children who might need school clothes, to adults who might need internet connections or training in job skills for better employment.

Doolittle said, “It’s so people who are unseen and not noticed may be recognized and receive the help they need.”

The information gathered by the census will not only help better direct help to those who need it, but will also help cut costs for tribal departments.

Anderson said, “It’s designed to standardize the database for the whole tribe. It’ll be easier to train people on, because everyone will use the same program.”

“It’ll also save money because the different departments won’t have to do it on their own,” Anderson said.

The census workers hope to be finished with the project in just five weeks, with a target completion date of December 31.

“I’ve been working with tribes for 26 years and this new system has been my dream,” Anderson said, “The Hoopa Valley Tribe is the first tribe to take advantage of the latest technology for this type of project.”

McAdams said, “We’re going to be on the cutting edge.”

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January 8th, 2014

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