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February 9, 2001

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Chambers


Potential Loss Of Social Services Underscores Need For Accurate Census In 2001

Albuquerque, NM -- A study released today by the Presidential Members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board found that urban Indians and Indians living on reservations could be adversely affected if the more accurate corrected census data is not released in 2001.

The study, conducted by Dr. Ted Jojola of the University of New Mexico, assessed the impact of census undercounts and adjustments on urban and surrounding reservation Indian populations of Albuquerque. Jojola found that the 1990 census missed nearly 3,000 American Indians in the Albuquerque metro area -- 2,550 on the surrounding 11 Indian reservations and 379 urban Indians.

"The untold story of American Indians being missed in the census is that urban, as well as reservation populations suffer when they are not counted in the census," said Gilbert F. Casellas, Presidential Co-Chair of the Monitoring Board.

"Because of systematic biases in census data collection, the use of adjusted counts for purposes of program development could significantly benefit both urban and reservation Indians in Census 2000," said Jojola, who also chairs the American Indian/Alaska Native Census 2000 Advisor Committee.

Jojola cited the transitory nature of the urban Indian community -- drawing on residency between their reservations and their urban neighborhood -- as one of the main factors for the chronic undercount of urban Indians. "American Indian families move into the city in search of jobs, health care, and other social services, such as homeless and domestic violence shelters. Indeed, 60 percent of the nation's American Indian population are urban. The undercount affects the city's ability to provide necessary services," said Jojola.

Reservation Indian programs are more apt to be closely tied to U.S. Census numbers because of their U.S. federal requirements for formula funding and tribal program development. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Housing Block Grants, Urban Indian Health Services and Indian Education programs all rely on census data.

"It would make a huge difference if there were five more youths or seniors. It might justify an in-house physical therapy program versus contracting somebody else (from outside the reservation) to do it," said Matt Foster, Director of Tribal Lands, Pueblo of Sandia.

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, the Albuquerque metro area could lose more than 20 million in federal funds over the next 10 years if the undercount is the same as in 1990.

The 1990 census missed 48,054 people in New Mexico - 3.1% of the state's population. This undercount rate was the nation's second highest among the states. Over 1,811 people (5.7%) missed were African-American, 22,985 were Hispanic (3.8%) and 13,353 (9.0%) were American Indian.

The Census Bureau is scheduled to release block level data by age, race and sex for the 2000 census next month.

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U.S. Census Monitoring Board
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