News

Make Your Mark – Help Shape Alaska’s Future for the Next Decade

Posted on | Back to Posts

We want your help in building excitement amongst Bristol Bay communities and shareholders to participate in the Census!

When you receive your 2020 Census letter from BBNC, take a photo of you, your family and/or fellow community members with your stickers pictured on the left! Post them on BBNC’s Facebook page or on Instagram using the hashtag #bristolbaycounts, and tag BBNC at @bbnc.ak.

Your post will qualify you for cool BBNC prizes! Watch for more details in your mailbox in January.

Since 1870, census takers, or enumerators, have braved harsh weather conditions and frigid temperatures on dogsled and on foot to capture census data in Alaska. They start early, before the spring thaw and melting snow make some remote areas impassable, or before residents leave their villages to fish or hunt. Alaska is the first state to start collecting census data, usually months ahead of Census Day. Even today, reaching some areas—those not accessible by road or without reliable internet or mail service—remains a challenge. As the nation’s largest and least densely populated state, Alaska has one of the most difficult populations to count. Yet it’s well worth the time and effort. Data collected in the census provides an accurate picture of the composition of our state’s population, which is essential to procure federal funding for important projects and services and to ensure proper legislative representation for every Alaskan community.

2020 is a Census year, and we at BBNC are joining the effort to make sure every Alaskan is counted. In 2010, Alaska had the lowest participation rate in the country. We can’t afford another undercount. This year, counting will begin in January and a complete and accurate count is critical— particularly because it determines the federal funding we receive for every community here at home. At a time when our state is in a recession and faces fiscal uncertainty, participating and engaging in the Census is an easy way each of us can be part of a long-term solution to help keep Alaska as financially secure as possible over the next decade.

Federal funding is important because it makes key infrastructure projects and critical services possible. This is especially important in smaller and rural communities. Roads, bridges, ferries. Health clinics, schools, fire departments and nonprofits. These are the kinds of organizations and infrastructure that benefit from an accurate census count. Responding to the census ensures your community gets the funding it needs for these vital public services. An undercount means your community risks having funding diverted elsewhere. Your participation will shape your community—and all of Alaska—for the next decade.

U.S. Census Directory Dr. Steven Dillingham recently traveled around Alaska to encourage participation in the 2020 census. Dr Dillingham (right) talks to Vice Chairman of Bristol Bay Native Association, Thomas Tilden (left) at the 2019 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention.

Participation in the census survey is easy and quick—you’ll answer just ten questions. As part of the survey—whether it’s mailed to your household or conducted in person by a survey taker—you’ll be asked to provide information about the number of people living at your address; the name, gender, date of birth, and ethnicity of each person living at the residence; and whether you rent or own your home. You will not be asked questions about your employment, income, citizenship, or political affiliation.

For shareholders who live in larger communities, either in Alaska or in the Lower-48, you can respond to the census survey online, by phone, or by mail. People living in the most remote parts of the state will be counted in person. Census takers will knock on doors to conduct the census, get their work validated by a local official and then village leaders certify the count for accuracy. In either scenario, completing the survey takes no longer than ten minutes, yet provides ten years of positive outcomes.

All census data is 100% confidential. In fact, every census employee takes a lifetime oath to protect data, and there are major penalties involved should anything ever be disclosed. By law, the Census Bureau can’t share your information with other government agencies.

Bristol Bay’s Complete Count Committee is part of a national program to increase awareness about census efforts. The Complete Count Committee includes a broad range of community leaders from business, education, tribal and local governments, faith-based groups, the media, and community- based organizations. The goal is to promote the census through targeted local outreach. Over the coming months, you can expect to see the committee around your communities at local events, and you’ll receive census information in mailings, on social media, and in schools, churches, and community centers.

Another important role the Complete Count Committee plays is helping to recruit census workers when jobs become available. The U.S. Census Bureau will be hiring 1,000 Alaskans to staff local offices and to be enumerators in every village throughout the state. Positions are part-time and pay $28/ hour. If you’re interested, you can apply online now at 2020census.gov/jobs or call 1-844-801-8130.