Census Undercounts Equals Big Losses for Choctaw Nation

By Bradley Gernand

A bigger picture is emerging of the fiChoctaw Nation Census Dollars Mapnancial damages incurred by southeastern Oklahoma as a result of its undercount in the 2010 Census—and the numbers are troubling. According to Chief Gary Batton, however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

At the request of the Choctaw Nation, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce generated data showing the amounts of federal and state funding each of the tribe’s 10½ counties lost over the past ten years. A direct link exists between the number of residents filling out and returning their census forms and the amount of federal and state dollars, which then flow to their communities and to the Choctaw Nation.

Because each of the 10½ counties experienced undercounts in the 2010 Census, they all lost prospective federal dollars. This money could have been used for repairing potholes in streets and buying equipment for law enforcement. The money could also have been used for education or health care. Each county is thought to have experienced at least a two percent undercount, with some counties likely higher.

Oklahoma’s urban counties also experienced undercounts, but these were generally less severe. Metropolitan Oklahoma City, in which at least 25,000 Choctaw tribal members live, and Tulsa, in which at least 7,000 tribal members live, also lost federal dollars and are working to make the 2020 Census more of a success. The missing money has impacted educational efforts and infrastructure in each city.

Choctaw tribal members live in all 50 states. Choctaws across the United States are strongly encouraged to fill out the census and indicate their tribal affiliation as “Choctaw Nation.” This will enable the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to bring in money which is used to assist during emergency situations—such as during the wildfires in California, the hurricanes in the southeastern United States, and elsewhere—as well as for educational purposes. In some cases, this relief is via funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which uses the census tallies of Choctaws living in each state to determine the amount of aid given.

Every household was provided with 2020 Census forms in late March. Have you received your form? Please fill it out, and on question #9, indicate your tribal affiliation by writing in the words, “Choctaw Nation.” Did you not receive your form? Contact the tribe’s customer care department at 800-522-6170 or at help@choctawnation.com.

Chief Gary Batton, in a recent quarterly letter to tribal members, urged everyone to fill out the census. “This represents a major opportunity for us, so you need to let your ancestors’ voices be heard,” he said. “This will ensure you are counted as a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and let everyone know that we are 200,000 Chahta strong!"

 

Census Dollars Lost by County

  • Atoka County had 14,182 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 289 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $1,151,954 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $11,519,540 over ten years.
  • Bryan County had 42,416 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 866 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $3,451,876 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $34,518,760 over ten years.
  • Choctaw County had 15,205 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 310 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $1,235,660 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $12,356,600 over ten years.
  • Coal County had 5,925 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 121 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $482,306 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $4,823,060 over ten years.
  • Haskell County had 12,769 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 261 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $1,040,346 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $10,403,460 over ten years.
  • Hughes County was created at statehood from portions of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Choctaw Nation. Its county seat, Holdenville, is located in the Muscogee Nation. Approximately 600 Choctaw tribal members live in southern Hughes County, which constitutes roughly one-third of the county’s total land area. The county is thought to have lost an estimated $11,163,192 in federal funding over ten years, factored across the entire county. Latimer County had 11,154 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 228 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $908,808 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $9,088,080 over ten years.
  • Le Flore County had 50,384 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 1,028 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $4,097,608 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $40,976,080 over ten years.
  • McCurtain County had 33,151 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 663 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,86/resident, that is $2,642,798 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $26,427,977 over ten years.
  • Pittsburg County had 45,837 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 935 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $3,726,910 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $37,269,100 over ten years.
  • Pushmataha County had 11,572 people in 2010 Census. A 2% undercount means 231 people would have been undercounted from 2010. Using present federal funding of $3,986/resident, that is $922,520 in potentially lost federal funding per year or an estimated $9,225,198 over ten years.