The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 13, 2001 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, April 13, 2001
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Page 8
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A8 FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2001 U.S. CENSUS TH1= SALINA JOURNAL T MISCOUNTS Census loses' 17 towns Still, 2000 census believed to be most accurate one ever By THOMAS HARGROVE Scripps Howard News Service The tiny Wyoming town of Lost Springs isn't really lost, nor did Florida's upscale community of Belleair Shore wash away, even though the Census Bureau indicated they did. The Census Bureau reported at least 17 communities had a •population of zero in the 2000 enumeration and another 38 had fewer than 10 people. But hundreds of residents in those towns and villages want the federal government to know that reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated. "VVe are still very much a town. Should I be calling somebody? I don't want us to get wiped out," said Belleair Shore Mayor John Robertson. "It's hard to believe that this happened. The census people had been here last year, bringing forms and asking our help in delivering them." - Although the 2000 census has been touted as the most accurate population count in U.S. history hundreds of thousands of people were overlooked or assigned • to, incorrect geographic locations. "We've made great strides rel- • ative to our counts historically," Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said last month. "We have the lowest undercount in history by far The undercount was slightly more than 1 percent, which is a remarkable achievement." That modest error rate means at least 3 million people were missed. Some of these errors occurred over geographic areas large enough to eliminate entire communities. • "I received a call from a researcher at the University of Florida recently who said we had a count of zero and wanted to-know if we were still a functioning town. I assured him that we are," Robertson said. Belleair Beach, located north of St. Petersbui'g, became Florida's smallest community when it was incorporated in 1955. The beachfront town of 55 households measures 5,000 feet long and only 230 feet deep. But it's a legal municipality with a population of about 110 people, 82 of whom are registered voters. "I would guess that we were all counted but then placed into the population of another town. There are the towns of Belleair, Belleair Bluff, Belleair Beach and Belleair Shore. All four are in the same area," Robertson said. Zero tolerance More of a mystery is what happened to the isolated farming community of Ohlman Village, 111., about 30 miles south of the state capital, Springfield. "I don't know how they came up with a number of zero. We have something like 180 people here," said Ohlman Postmaster Jana Willis. "Being such a small town, everyone knows all of the parents, the kids, the dogs and the cats. Our population has been holding steady In fact, we had a family of eight move in recently so we've had a slight increase." As in the case of Belleair Beach, Willis distinctly remembers census enumerators coming to her asking for help to identify the homes inside village boundaries. But no one came knocking on doors to deliver the forms. "I can't understand what the problem was or why the census didn't send people door-to-door here. Our village clerk has made several calls to Chicago and Washington to try to get the problem resolved," Willis said. The residents of tiny SNPJ, Pa., have been more successful. There will be a recount for the Lawrence County community whose initials mean Slovenska Narpdna Podporna Jednota or the "Slovene National Benefit Society," which bought the land that became a borough in 1978. "People from the Census Bureau are coming back in June. They agree that population zero was just not true for us," borough constable Jeff Wisneski,. said. BioGuard Pool SchOOl y producis g.3Q 823-7512 T NATIVE AMERICAN POPULATION Indians returning to the reservation Many want 'to be a part of what's going on to help the tribe' By CARSON WALKER The Associated Press KYLE, S.D. — The yearning to be on family land was so strong for Leatrice Wilson that she left thriving metropolitan Denver to live in the nation's poorest county on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Wilson, a 41-year-old Oglala Sioux trained as a medical assistant, landed a job last year helping people with funeral expenses, heating bills and medical costs. She's happy — and proud — to be back. "There's a whole new generation of people who are on the reservation that have lived out there and have an education, and they're determined to be a part of what's going on to help the tribe," she said. According to 2000 census figures, American Indian reservations across the country are burgeoning — even in the West, where vast rural stretches are losing people. Experts and tribal officials say many areas are getting a boost from Indians returning to jobs and wealth provided by ubiquitous tribal casinos and others seeking to rekindle their heritage. Still others return to family and familiar surroundings after struggling financially and culturally off the reservation. Overall, the number of people who identified themselves solely as Indian and Alaska Native grew by 26 percent during the 1990s to about 2.5 million last year Add multiracial categories and the number of people claiming some Indian ancestry is even larger. The population surge was seen from coast to coast: • In Arizona, the Indian population jumped 25.7 percent during the last decade. At the Fort McDowell and Tohono O'odham reservations, officials say casinos lured back tribal members and helped pay for improvements such as Gensus2000 Many American Indians called to a cultural home Drawn by their heritage or the support system they are missing eisewhere, many American Indians have returned to reservations, experts and tribal officials say. Data from the 2000 census shows that reservations - the majority of which are located west of the Mississippi River - are growing, boosted in part by money and jobs generated by casinos. Percent American "i Indian by * county* Zero to 1 Boundary of American Indian land ' County boundaries not shown SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau: ESRI fire departments, health clinics and education. The number of Indians on the Navajo reservation, the nation's largest, reached 173,631 last year — a 21 percent jump. • California passed Oklahoma to become home to more Indian and Alaska Natives than any other state — more than 333,000, up from 242,000 in 1990, according to a Tulsa World analysis. Some 300,000 additional Californians included Indian or Alaska Native in a multiracial response. • In Connecticut, a 50 percent increase in the Indian population during the 1990s has been linked to tribal casinos, which distribute wealth to members and give hiring preferences to Indians. • In Idaho, the Coeur d'A- lene tribe has added a new tribal school and hundreds of homes to communities on its reservation. In Kansas, several reservations have housing shortages. • In New Mexico, 20 of 22 reservations grew. And in North Dakota, where only six counties gained people during the 1990s, two are home to reservations and both have casinos. Census officials say they did a better job counting everyone last year than in 1990. Even so, they estimate they missed 4.7 percent of Indians and Alaska AP Natives on reservations, more than three times the national average. Some tribes say the undercount is far higher. JoAnn Chase, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, said she doubted many people were declaring Indian ancestry without good reason. More likely, she said, multiracial Indians are more likely the adult children of parents of two races who are reconnecting with their Indian culture and traditions. "It is very welcome," she said. "I think that constitutes the largest part of the population, people who legitimately have a nexus to their tribal affiliation." Angel Reddest grew up on the Pine Ridge reservation, attended Black Hills State University and lived for a while in Rapid City She now owns Lil Angel's convenience store in Kyle with her mother and brother "I like it here on the reservation, and that's why I chose to come back," she said. Kyle is in Shannon County considered the poorest in the nation, with an unemployment rate of more than 80 percent. Yet its population rose 26 percent in the 1990s to 12,466 last year In fact, all nine of South Dakota's reservations grew and the state's overall Indian population jumped 23 percent. Dennis King of the Oglala Sioux's housing office in Pine Ridge said cuts in supplemental welfare are forcing some Indians to return to the reservation. Culture shock forces others to come back, he said. "They'd much rather work back at home where they're familiar with their people," King said. Theresa Two Bulls, vice chair of the Oglala Sioux, notes that census numbers affect federal aid for housing, education, health care and other services. Her goal is to encourage economic development to help people become self-sufficient. "There's so much potential out there," she said. "We shouldn't be in this poverty- stricken state." It is a lingering problem for many reservations, and it tempers the population increases. Officials in Montana and Arizona, for example, say many young people are leaving reservations to seek better educational and business opportunities in urban areas. "Right now our economy is still depressed, but we are working on it," said Ernie Yazzie, a statistician and census adviser for the Navajo. "Navajos go off the reservation for college and stay there." Willow Tree Angels New! •Angel of Strength " • Angel of Courage 1 • Angel of Patience FOREVER OAK " Handcrafted Oak Furniture & Accents " 619 E. 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