February 14, 2002

Census Bureau did a very poor job in counting Indians


While the numbers reported by the Census are higher, the Census Bureau did a very poor job in counting Indians. I worked as a tribal liaison for the Census Bureau in the Los Angeles region and I saw that little than lip service was given to the Indian Census count.


I did an analysis of the 1980 Census and found that the number of Americans claiming Indian “ancestry” nationwide was over 7 million. Now the Census Bureau is claiming there are only 4.1 million (as tallied in the 1990 Census) who are either single or of multi-race. 

This resulted because the forms were confusing, many of the Census workers have inadequate training on how to explain the forms, and the Census Bureau made little effort to properly train most of the Tribes in how to handle the census forms.

Maybe someone can explain what is the difference between someone who says they are of multi-race and someone who claims their ancestry is Indian. 

For those wanting to check, the 1980 Census report indicating the Ancestry figures is PC80-S1-10. I can verify that the Census Bureau sought to suppress the 1980 figures when we were compiling the report. 

A report done by the Native American Employment and Training Consortium found that the majority of Indians reporting single race lived on the reservation. The majority of people claiming multi-race lived off the reservation. 

This is important because the Census Bureau has already announced that they will do specific reports on the single race population and no do reports on the multi-race population. Thus no reports will be done on the vast majority of the Indian population. 

It is also interesting to note that the number of Indians in the County of Los Angeles nearly doubled from the 1990 Census count. At least now I know where the rest of the 7 million Indians went after the 1980 Census. 

–Ron Andrae

Author: Ron Andrae

In Response to:

American Indian count completed: 4.1 million

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