Coronavirus Compounds Census Undercount of Navajo Nation

Image: Morgan Lee/AP

This week, the Navajo Nation has extended the closure of tribal government offices and ordered residents to stay home for another three weeks as the number of coronavirus cases rises outside the reservation. In May the Navajo Nation had the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the United States, outpacing hot spots like New York.  Driving this alarming rate of infection was high poverty, lack of healthcare access, lack of access to clean water, and general neglect at the hands of the U.S. government.

Compounding these struggles, Native Americans (the Navajo especially) have been historically undercounted in the census–an issue that’s especially worrisome this census year at a time when indigenous communities need more federal representation.

Why This Matters: As Mother Jones explained in their recent piece, “for myriad reasons that ultimately boil down to the US government’s unwillingness to invest in the people whose resources it has squandered since the nation’s inception, Native Americans have been regularly undercounted ever since—more than any other ethnic group.” Undercounting people of color in this nation, unfortunately, occurs regularly and costs these communities precious dollars in funding for projects they desperately need (like schools and clean water infrastructure). The coronavirus presents an immense challenge to census workers who aren’t able to go door to door in rural areas, creating the likelihood that the communities who need government funding the most will not receive it.

Worth Noting: As Forbes wrote, there are advocacy groups who have expressed extreme concern around funding issues for the Census. Specifically, the Census Project estimates that there’s a $2 billion shortfall of budget needed to complete an accurate decennial census.

Up Next

First African American Catholic Cardinal Supports the Fight Against Climate Change

First African American Catholic Cardinal Supports the Fight Against Climate Change

Wilton Gregory, appointed the first African American Catholic cardinal, is an ally in the fight against global warming. He not only believes in climate change, but he also has supported the Pope’s landmark environmental treatise— “Laudato Si:’ On Care for our Common Home” —when many archbishops in the United States did not, and put together a plan to address the Pope’s concerns about climate change that has been an inspiration for other faith leaders in Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis, San Diego, and other cities.

Why this Matters:  Spiritual leaders across faiths have been taking a stand against climate change. On November 16th, 47 faith institutions— 42 representing Catholics— announced their divestment from fossil fuels.

Continue Reading 505 words

Interview of the Week: Adam Kolton of the Alaska Wilderness League

This week, just in time for Thanksgiving, we talk with Adam Kolton, the Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Arctic Indigenous Communities, and conserving Alaskan wilderness.  Watch the entire interview.  Here are a few highlights: On the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: “This is the area where hundreds of […]

Continue Reading 245 words

Interview of the Week: Indonesian Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan

This week we had the pleasure of sitting with Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, a title he’s held since October 2019. We asked the minister about how Indonesia is balancing the precarious equation of conserving its rich biodiversity while addressing the duel climate and COVID crises.   Now that […]

Continue Reading 112 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.