HUD Accepts New Census Numbers – Population Soars from 15,000 to 28,000

Below is an article from the July 27th edition of the Lakota Times announcing the acceptance of census numbers developed by Dr. Kathleen Pickering of the Department of Anthropology at Colorado State University and David Bartecchi, Pine Ridge Project director for Village Earth. The census numbers were created using a map of all the housing units on the reservation (below) developed using GIS by David Bartecchi and demographic data from Dr. Pickering’s 5 year longitudinal survey. This increase in the estimate of population for Pine Ridge will increase the amount of funding for low-income housing for the reservation by a couple million dollars.

Above: Map of all the households on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Dr. Pickering’s survey also found that nearly 80% of the population on Pine Ridge would like to live somewhere else if they had the opportunity. The reason for this is mainly due the extreme shortage of affordable quality housing on the reservation, a situation that often forces families to move away from their communities when a house becomes available. 70% of the respondants said they would like to live on their own land if they were able to. One of Village Earth’s primary ares of emphasis is to help families on the reservation reclaim their land and traditional communities. An important component of this effort will be building housing on people’s land, where they want it.

HUD Accepts New Census Numbers: Population Soars from 15,000 to 28,000

By Tom Crash
Time Correspondent

PINE RIDGE – “We have been dealing with innaccurate census numbers for years,” said Jim Berg, executive director of Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing, “this has led to an incorrect formula and has meant serious under funding of the housing program here on Pine Ridge and the loss of millions of dollars. Although the real number is close to 40,000, today we are recognized as having 28,000 people on Pine Ridge instead of the 15,000 accepted for the last several years.”

Following the passage of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) several years ago, OSLH’s funding has been based on census figures and a formula derived from the existing housing stock on hand and a needs analysis that takes into consideration how many homes are without water and electricity, how many households spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing and the existing and future demands for housing.

“For the last seven years we have been short changed by the census numbers and the formula,” emphasized Berg, “to put it less diplomatically, we have been robbed of vital resources because of the formula, monies that should have come to Pine Ridge have been distributed to other tribes.”

Dr. Kathleen Pickering, a professor of [Anthropology] at Colorado State University in Fort Collins has been gathering data from across Pine Ridge Reservation since [2000]; according to Berg, much of this data and information from the Indian Health Services has been using to convince HUD that the accepted census numbers were not reflective of reality on the reservation.

The federal government has exhibited an inability to count people correctly, when you have people knocking on doors and trying to get a real number of how many people live in each house, it is hard to get accurate numbers when the population is so mobile and guidelines are there dictating how many people should be living in each house, added Berg.

“It is going to be hard to go back and recoup the lost money,” said Berg, “if the tribal president is able to work with South Dakota congressional delegation and maybe add a rider to an appropriations bill – we are probably one of six areas that have been able to prove that there is an undercounting of the census. From this point on the new numbers will benefit us and the U.S. Senate and House are conferring this week and instead of for sure cuts in our budget we will stay the same or get a small increase.”

According to Berg, Congress but Indian housing monies las year, a $500,000 cut for housing here on Pine Ridge and were expected to cut a million from the budget this year…


  1. $500,000 and up to a million dollar budget cut for Pine Ridge? They are one of the communities that need this money the most! Ridiculous.

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