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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, May 29, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesCOUNTING NATIVES IN CENSUS 2000

COUNTING NATIVES IN CENSUS 2000

The most obvious question about the call for "native Virgin Islanders" to get themselves counted as such in Census 2000 is, why utilize the section dealing with "race" in the census form to accomplish their goal?
It's also the easiest question to answer. The census form doesn't deal specifically with national origin. So the Organization of Native Virgin Islanders went to the section about race as their only alternative.
It's clear a lot of other groups, mainly in the Pacific, that want to be counted separately got there before the Virgin Islanders. There's a box to be checked if you're Samoan, another box for Guamanians, and yet another box for Native Hawaiians.
At first, ONVI was attracted to the notion that native Virgin Islanders could check the box for "Native Hawaiians" but cross out "Hawaiians" and replace it with "Virgin Islanders." But Frank Mills, the local Census honcho, gently dissuaded ONVI from that course and pointed the organization in the direction of writing in the words "Native Virgin Islanders" elsewhere in the section on race, next to the box marked "other."
Some purists insist native Virgin Islanders don't constitute a race. We say you do what you gotta do, and if natives of the Virgin Islands want to be counted, using the "race" section on the census form is the only way to skin that cat.
There are two other questions about the ONVI action that are not as easy to answer.
Why is the ONVI write-in campaign getting started so late in the census game? Many of the census forms already have been picked up by Mills' enumerators, the people who go door-to-door.
The ONVI has no good answer for this. But it's clear such a campaign should have started months ago.
Next, and most important, is the old question of who's a native Virgin Islander.
The census takers aren't going to define this for you. You tell them you're Chinese, you're Chinese. You tell them you're native Virgin Islander — and write it in — that's what you are, as far as they're concerned.
The ONVI wants you to be able to trace your ancestry to somone who lived here prior to 1927, but ONVI isn't conducting the census.
Other people say simply that if you were born here, you're a native.
We say that if you consider yourself a native Virgin Islander and want to be counted in that category in the census, then write it in under the question dealing with "race."
It will be interesting to see the totals.

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The most obvious question about the call for "native Virgin Islanders" to get themselves counted as such in Census 2000 is, why utilize the section dealing with "race" in the census form to accomplish their goal?
It's also the easiest question to answer. The census form doesn't deal specifically with national origin. So the Organization of Native Virgin Islanders went to the section about race as their only alternative.
It's clear a lot of other groups, mainly in the Pacific, that want to be counted separately got there before the Virgin Islanders. There's a box to be checked if you're Samoan, another box for Guamanians, and yet another box for Native Hawaiians.
At first, ONVI was attracted to the notion that native Virgin Islanders could check the box for "Native Hawaiians" but cross out "Hawaiians" and replace it with "Virgin Islanders." But Frank Mills, the local Census honcho, gently dissuaded ONVI from that course and pointed the organization in the direction of writing in the words "Native Virgin Islanders" elsewhere in the section on race, next to the box marked "other."
Some purists insist native Virgin Islanders don't constitute a race. We say you do what you gotta do, and if natives of the Virgin Islands want to be counted, using the "race" section on the census form is the only way to skin that cat.
There are two other questions about the ONVI action that are not as easy to answer.
Why is the ONVI write-in campaign getting started so late in the census game? Many of the census forms already have been picked up by Mills' enumerators, the people who go door-to-door.
The ONVI has no good answer for this. But it's clear such a campaign should have started months ago.
Next, and most important, is the old question of who's a native Virgin Islander.
The census takers aren't going to define this for you. You tell them you're Chinese, you're Chinese. You tell them you're native Virgin Islander -- and write it in -- that's what you are, as far as they're concerned.
The ONVI wants you to be able to trace your ancestry to somone who lived here prior to 1927, but ONVI isn't conducting the census.
Other people say simply that if you were born here, you're a native.
We say that if you consider yourself a native Virgin Islander and want to be counted in that category in the census, then write it in under the question dealing with "race."
It will be interesting to see the totals.