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Component ID: #ti1239471913

Executive Summary

Three focus groups were conducted on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau in Denver, Colorado, on September 23-25, 2003, to obtain insights and ideas from federally recognized tribal government representatives for planning and conducting effective geographic programs, field operations, and outreach and promotional efforts for the reengineered 2010 Census. Altogether, there were 31 participants from 30 tribes and 20 different states.

Component ID: #ti1426564408

Cross-cutting Issues

These issues emerged in all the focus groups and there was a high degree of consensus on recommendations:

  1. Communication between the Census Bureau and tribes could be improved by making the Partnership Specialist a permanent position and having more tribal consultation.
  2. Tribes need more training about the census and how to access and use census data.
  3. The Census Bureau needs more training about tribes.
  4. Tribes would like to contract Census Bureau activities.
  5. Census maps are difficult to read. The addition of geographic features, such as rivers or roads, would improve quality and accuracy of information submitted by the tribe and enumerators.
  6. The Census Bureau should convert to using GIS mapping. Tribes perceive that the commercial GIS systems they are using are superior to the Census Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER).
  7. Sampling may undercount the population in Indian Country and misrepresent conditions of tribes. Tribes prefer using long form and complete count. This has implications for the American Community Survey. The few participants who were aware of the the American Community Survey expressed negative opinions about it.

Component ID: #ti1426564407

Geographic Programs

These are some highlights from the Geographic Programs focus group:

  1. Tribes want the opportunity to add optional tribal-specific areas that each tribe could choose, that could differ from tribe to tribe, and that could extend beyond the reservation boundary. This could be done most effectively if the Census Bureau used GIS and tribes could designate areas for information using geocodes.
  2. The Census Bureau should ask elected tribal leaders to designate a staff person or an office, such as the GIS Office, for routine correspondence from the Census Bureau. The Boundary and Annexation Survey and other materials should be sent directly to that individual or office, with notification to the tribal leader.
  3. When tribes submit information to correct maps, they would like written acknowledgement from the Census Bureau, as well as changes to future maps.
  4. The Census Bureau should develop a working relationship with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to assure that trust lands are accurately reflected in census maps.
  5. Tribes unaware of Census Bureau Geographic Programs other than the Boundary and Annexation Survey. More training and communication is needed for tribes to participate in review of Census Tracts, Block Groups, and Census Designated Places.
  6. Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) is difficult in many areas because people use Post Office boxes and do not have physical addresses. GPS coordinates would alleviate the need for addresses and address lists. Point/site specific maps would be more useful to American Indian communities than addresses.
  7. Tribal rolls and other tribal data sets could be used to supplement LUCA.

Component ID: #ti1426564405

Field Operations

The Field Operations focus group provided a lot of detailed information, with some of the key points listed below:

  1. There was consensus among focus group participants that there is not one best way to collect census information on tribal lands. A variety of methods used simultaneously would assure the most complete count.
  2. Focus group participants felt that there would be a high rate of acceptance of the handheld computers among both Census Bureau employees and the general population; however, further research with a more representative sample is recommended by the consultants.
  3. Advertise on reservations all Census Bureau jobs, not just the enumerator jobs on tribal lands.
  4. Work with the tribes to hire better enumerators using criteria that are not limited to the Census Bureau tests – lazy enumerators lead to higher vacancy rates and lower counts.
  5. Focus group suggestions for improving retention of tribal enumerators:
    • The Census Bureau should embrace the concept of teams for job sharing enumerator positions.
    • Make the decennial census a trainee program for lay researchers so that they can use it as a rung on a career ladder.
    • Hire fewer people for longer periods.
    • Offer incentives to complete the job.
    • Improve the supervision of enumerators to create a greater sense of teamwork, belonging, and consistency.
    • Let people know where they will be working when they apply for Census Bureau jobs, and try to place people on their own reservations.
    • Conduct employee interviews and analyze data to learn why people quit.

Component ID: #ti1426564406

Outreach and Promotion

The Outreach and Promotion focus group provided many observations, including the following:

  1. Having one person designated as the Tribal Government Liaison made the process work at the tribe by providing a central point of reference for other tribal programs.
  2. The Tribal Liaison Handbook and the Complete Count Committee Handbook were effective tools that provided an outline of a work plan, a timeline and a framework for the Tribal Liaison.
  3. In many cases, Regional Meetings were held too late and provided too much information at one time to be absorbed effectively.
  4. The quality of the Partnership Specialist support varied from region to region.
  5. The roles and relationships of the Tribal Liaison, the Local Office, and the Regional Office should be defined in written Census Bureau Policies and Procedures.
  6. The paid advertising campaign should be continued. Census Bureau produced good Public Service Announcements (PSAs) using American Indian advertising agencies; however, tribes have a hard time getting local stations to run the PSAs.
  7. One of the most difficult problems for tribes is that the Census Bureau requires staffing and activities that are not funded. The Census Bureau should send to Congress a budget with an initiative that provides funding for tribes to hire Tribal Liaisons, consultants and marketing expertise.
  8. Tribes that have their own websites could add information about the census and provide links to Census Bureau websites. Tribes would like to be able to provide links to tribal-specific census data.
  9. The focus group offered the following advice for designing promotional materials for the next census and surveys:
    • Use Native American advertising agencies.
    • Let tribes from a variety of regions, not just the Southwest, be involved in selecting advertising agencies by region.
    • Customize artwork to use pictures of tribes in the areas where the posters will be used.
    • Have a national contest for American Indian artists.
    • Sponsor poster contests in American Indian schools and have national awards.

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