The honor of first Oregonian counted in the 2020 Census went to a Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs elder and war veteran
WARM SPRINGS – The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs was honored by the U.S. Census Bureau as the location for the first count in the state of Oregon for the 2020 Decennial Census. With the kickoff event on March 12, 2020, the first day the 2020 Census can be completed online, the Census Bureau hoped to show how committed it is to a complete and accurate count of our nation’s first peoples. The honor of being the first person counted in Oregon went to George Aguilar Sr., a Wasco elder and life-long resident of Warm Springs.
Aguilar Sr., who turns 90 later this year, is a is a Korean War veteran. He raised his family in Warm Springs and has worked as a laborer, fisherman, logger, and construction manager. He’s also the author of When the River Ran Wild! Indian Traditions on the Mid-Columbia and the Warm Springs Reservation.
Aguilar Sr. has worked with a variety of groups to enhance efforts to inform as many tribal members as possible about the importance of completing the census. “Over the last couple of months, we have worked closely with the We Count Oregon Campaign, the Census Bureau’s Tribal Partnerships Specialist, the 9 Tribal Census Liaisons and the OCCC Indian Country Subcommittee to craft culturally responsive outreach strategies that will reach Tribal communities and Native Americans living on and off reservations,” he said.
Census data directly impacts how the federal government allocates more than $675 billion every year for programs and services vital for Tribal Communities, like Medicaid, social services, housing, public safety, veterans services, emergency preparedness, education, school lunches and more.
At stake for Oregon specifically is $19 billion in federal funds – that’s $4,600 per Oregonian – that helps fund programs like Medicaid, Head Start, SNAP food benefits, TANF to help families, and Section 8 Housing vouchers. Oregon is also close to getting a 6th Congressional seat in the House of Representatives (last census, the state was just 41,000 residents short). Counting each Oregonian affects whether we receive our fair share of federal resources and fair representation in Washington, D.C.
“The Census happens every 10 years. In the past, our reservation community has been undercounted,” says Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council Chairman Raymond Tsumpti Sr. “We don’t want that to be the case in 2020. I encourage all our Tribal Members and Warm Springs residents to participate in the census to help provide a better future for our community and future generations.”
Your own invitation to participate in the 2020 Census should be arriving this week. Please remember to fill out your form online, by mail, or by phone. For more information, visit Oregon2020Census.gov