AP NEWS

Activists work to increase Montana reservation census count

December 30, 2019 GMT

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Native American activists are working to increase the number of Montana reservation residents counted in the 2020 national census.

Outreach workers hired by Montana Native Vote are promoting participation in the upcoming federal count, The Billings Gazette reports.

U.S. Census Bureau officials hope to increase the number of applications to work on Montana’s seven reservations from 775 already received to 1,500.

Outreach efforts include distributing census pledge cards, which are postcards filled out by residents to be mailed to them as reminders shortly before the census begins April 1.

During the past decade, the state received about $2,000 per year in federal money for every resident counted in the 2010 census, The Montana Complete Count Committee said.

Census projections show Montana could gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if its residents are fully counted.

Representation for Native people is at risk of being diluted if they are undercounted, Montana Native Vote Program Manager Ta’jin Perez said.

“It gives away their political voice, their power to advocate what’s important for their communities and their families,” Perez said.