Navajo Confronting Challenges Of Census During Pandemic

Published: Monday, September 7, 2020 - 2:30pm
Updated: Monday, September 7, 2020 - 2:32pm
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The Navajo Nation has set up roadblocks to distribute information about the U.S. census. The Navajo face a number of challenges gathering census data, and are working to catch up before the Sept. 30 deadline. 

The Navajo Census began in March, when postcards were mailed to households. But it was suspended just three days after it began because of the pandemic. 

Census workers have started up again, but some homes on the reservation don’t have addresses, or computers. Some houses are located on rugged roads that make travel a challenge. 

For a while, because of COVID-19, census workers were just leaving packets on doors with no contact — not so much as a knock on the door.  

"It’s just proper that we knock on the door," said Arbin Mitchell, a spokesman for the Census Bureau. Before COVID-19, "grandma or grandpa" would say, "Come on in," or, "they would answer the door and you would have that little conversation.”

“It’s just proper that we knock on the door," said Arbin Mitchell, a spokesman for the Census Bureau.  "And when you knock on the door, you know before COVID, grandma or grandpa would say, ‘Woshdee,’ meaning, 'Come on in' ... or, they would answer the door and you would have that little conversation.” 

Census workers are now knocking on doors, wearing masks and social distancing. 

In addition to a few roadblocks set up to raise awareness, they also are handing out information at food distribution centers.

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