Montana areas of under count from the 2010 Census (courtesy of censushardtocountmaps2020.us)
Why The Census Matters
The Census is a keystone of our representative government. It measures the population so that seats in the US House of Representatives and the Montana legislature can be correctly divided. It also is used in redistricting to draw the lines that link representatives to their constituents for the next ten years. Past undercounts of Native populations have deprived hundreds of thousands of Native Americans of their voice in government.
The distribution of more than $600 billion per year in federal money is tied to the Census. The government calculates each geographic area’s level of education, income/poverty, and more to determine their level of needed funding. Census numbers provide the base figures used in these formulas. Census calculated funding reaches our communities for programs like Head Start, health care, infrastructure, housing, and education.
Our constitution requires that every person in the United States be counted--it is the basis of equal representation. Certain populations, however, typically are undercounted, e.g, minorities, people in poverty, people living in non-traditional homes, people who speak a different language than English, and youth. One quarter of Native Americans live in areas described by the Census as "hard to count." An inaccurate count of our communities means less resources and less of a voice for our people.