Only 15% Of Gila River Indian Community Residents Have Responded To The Census

Published: Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 3:11pm
Bret Jaspers/KJZZ
Stephen Roe Lewis in 2019.

With the census deadline fast approaching, the Gila River Indian Community is reporting only about a 15% response rate. That means only 3,000 members of the community’s 22,000 residents would be counted.

Speaking at a virtual census rally Saturday, Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis implored residents to complete their census questionnaires.

“Think about the programs that are funded using census data," Roe Lewis said. "Housing, public schools, food distribution programs, violence against women grants, public safety dollars, transportation including the roads, broadband funding — imagine if all that funding was cut by 85%.”

Roe Lewis said that in addition to federal funding, the tribe's economy — already struggling due to COVID-19 — was at risk.

“Our tribal economy is stressed because of COVID," he said. "Imagine those cuts being in place for the next 10 years because we didn’t take 10 minutes now, this month, to complete a census form.”

Census takers will continue canvassing up until Sept. 30 — but individuals can respond online, by phone or through the mail until that date.

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