SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Totem Pole Event To Inspire Census Participation In Alaskan Communities


March 26, 2010

Saxman, Alaska - The Census Totem Pole is making its way to Saxman where a Census Day event will be held to bring awareness of the 2010 census and urge residents to fill out and mail back their forms. The journey of the totem pole is part of the Census Bureau's effort to reach hard-to-count communities in Alaska, which had the lowest response rate of all the states in the 2000 census.

"The ultimate purpose is to inspire people to fill out the form," said Eric Morisson, partnership specialist for Alaska Native communities. "Not only is it important [to count] tribal membership for tribes, but also for the community overall-for future development, as far as day cares, health clinics, city programs, roads, and economic development [go]."

Tommy Joseph, of the Eagle Moiety, Kaagwaantaan Clan, carved the eight-foot pole in Sitka. Joseph, a resident artist and educator at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, incorporated three totem figures: the two moieties in Tlingit society-Eagle and Raven-representing all peoples, as well as Human who is crouched in between with a painted overlay of the multi-colored hands seen in census logos.

Households throughout Alaska began receiving the much-anticipated, 10-question form in their mailboxes mid-March. Some Alaskan residents, mostly in rural areas, were hand-delivered the form earlier this winter. Census officials hope that households will fill out their 2010 census questionnaires and mail it back. In more remote areas, face-to-face interviews will be immediately conducted at the household and counted on the spot.

It costs the government just the price of a postage stamp when a household mails back the 10-question form, which should take just 10 minutes to complete. However, it costs the Census Bureau $57 to follow up with a non-responsive household. In 2000, the nation reversed a three-decade decline in mail rates, achieving a mail-participation rate of 72 percent.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census takes place every 10 years. Census Day is April 1, 2010. Census data determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually based on census data to pay for local programs and services, such as schools, highways, vocational training, emergency services, hospitals, unemployment benefits and much more.

What: Census Totem Pole

Who: Eric Morisson, Partnership Specialist, Census Bureau

When: Saturday, March 27, 2010, 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Where: Saxman Community Center, 2841 S Tongass Highway, Ketchikan, AK, 99901



On the Web:

Learn more about the 2010 Census at, and view your community's participation


Source of News:

U. S. Census Bureau


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska