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Participate and be counted in the census

That knock on the door might not be a man with a big, 6-foot check from the lottery division. But by answering it, you could be helping our state or our valley win a piece of the lottery.

The 2010 Census is about to begin and if you're a Flathead Reservation resident, that means you'll be having someone come knocking on your door, asking if you can spend a few minutes with them. Please do so. That little bit of time answering 10 questions should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

In March, census forms will be delivered by mail to nearly every residence in the United States and Puerto Rico, with the exception of areas like the Reservation. For this census, Tribal Council chose to employ only door-to-door visits in hopes that personal contact will be more effective than mail-in responses in getting an accurate count of the Reservation’s population. 

It's personal information that people sometimes hesitate to give, but you can rest assured those names won't be shared with anybody outside of the census data gathering process. Actually, that personal data you provide is protected under federal law and guarded quite closely.

And those questions need to be somewhat personal in order to help guide the federal government in distribution of federal aid to our valley, our reservation and our state. 

The overall numbers of citizens living in areas drives how many representatives we have in Congress, but it also directs how federal funds are distributed to build hospitals, schools, bridges and emergency services. 

Federal law requires every citizen 18 years of age or older to answer the questions in connection with the survey, resulting in up to a $100 fine if you don't comply. But, hopefully, everyone will recognize it's an important task that citizens should participate in, one that shapes so much of the future of our communities.

A census may take a little time out of your day, but it's an important job that needs to be done. And it needs to be as accurate as possible.

Don't let yourself — and our valley — be left out of this important, impacting process. 

Help the census takers get the job done right, for the benefit of all of us.

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