Native American Communities - We Count Oregon

Native American Communities

Native American people have called Oregon home for time immemorial. For too long we have been erased. Native peoples matter – We Count.

Participating in the 2020 Census is important for Native Oregonians because generally white, wealthy, and homeowner populations gain more political power than undercounted Native peoples, when we are not counted, which means their interests are better represented.

In 2010, about 1 in 7 Native Americans living on a reservation was missed, according to an audit by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s about 82,000 people overlooked and uncounted.


Hard-to-count Native populations in Oregon include Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

Being counted directly correlates to funding services that support Native communities including Native community center funding, health services specifically for Native families, support for Native children’s needs, emergency services, and support for schools. Social services like SNAP food assistance, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing are also funded based on census numbers. These vital services are critical to our communities in both tribal and urban settings.  

Since the Census was created, it has funneled more resources into over-represented communities and away from us. Some Native peoples may resist participating given how Census data has been used in disenrollment of tribal citizens and miscategorization using blood quantum questions. 

But in 2020 taking the census is one of many ways Natives can engage in democracy to advocate for services and resources that heal and support our communities.  Representation matters, it is critical our community is counted to upend historical privileges and make our communities count.  

The impact of being under-counted could affect an additional representative in Oregon. Counting ourselves ensures that all Oregon representatives understand that they need to serve the needs of all their constituents including Native peoples.  

The Census Bureau cannot share the answers it receives with anyone, including welfare agencies, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (formerly INS), the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribal officials, tribal courts, tribal police, or the military.

Part C Title VI of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) provides quality education for American Indian, Alaskan, and Hawaiian Native students. Filling out the census and counting your children will ensure Native youth have access to critical funding opportunities to access quality education at every level.


For additional questions or assistance regarding Native or tribal issues and the Census contact:

Download our toolkit!

Download our Native American Toolkit for additional information about taking the Census.

Questions? Contact us.