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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 19, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesLOCAL GROUP WANTS NATIVES COUNTED IN CENSUS

LOCAL GROUP WANTS NATIVES COUNTED IN CENSUS

Although Census 2000 is well under way in the territory, a local group has decided to push for the counting of native Virgin Islanders as a separate group.
Representatives of the Organization of Native Virgin Islanders met recently with Dr. Frank Mills, director of the census in the Virgin Islands, who told them they can be counted as natives if they answer the census form's question about race in a certain way.
That question offers a choice of many answers, each with its own box to check. The last answer is "Some other race," with spaces underneath to write in a description. ONVI is urging natives of the Virgin Islands to check that answer and to print in the words NATIVE VIRGIN ISLANDER.
Mills said the write-ins will be tabulated individually if the total number of persons who check the box for "Some other race" exceeds 1 percent of the population of the Virgin Islands — or a little over a thousand persons.
"We want to be counted as a group," said Norma Pickard-Samuel of St. Thomas, acting president of ONVI. "We are not into divisiveness. We respect everyone's race, color and creed. We want to be respected as native Virgin Islanders. We want to preserve our heritage and culture. We want that respect just as we respect anyone who comes here and contributes."
ONVI did not refer to the intermittent controversy about how a native Virgin Islander should be defined.
In an earlier press release, ONVI claimed that Virgin Islanders who could trace their ancestors to the islands prior to Feb. 28, 1927, were "entitled to native status."
That's the date, 10 years after the U.S. purchased the islands from Denmark, when Congress granted local residents U.S. citizenship.
But Congress never defined the term "native Virgin Islander," nor does the Census. The question about race asks what race the respondent "considers himself/herself to be."
Furthermore, respondents are invited to give more than one answer in the interests of accuracy. A local resident, for example, could check the box for "Black, African Am., or Negro" or the box for "White" and also write in under "Some other race" the description "native Virgin Islander."

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Although Census 2000 is well under way in the territory, a local group has decided to push for the counting of native Virgin Islanders as a separate group.
Representatives of the Organization of Native Virgin Islanders met recently with Dr. Frank Mills, director of the census in the Virgin Islands, who told them they can be counted as natives if they answer the census form's question about race in a certain way.
That question offers a choice of many answers, each with its own box to check. The last answer is "Some other race," with spaces underneath to write in a description. ONVI is urging natives of the Virgin Islands to check that answer and to print in the words NATIVE VIRGIN ISLANDER.
Mills said the write-ins will be tabulated individually if the total number of persons who check the box for "Some other race" exceeds 1 percent of the population of the Virgin Islands -- or a little over a thousand persons.
"We want to be counted as a group," said Norma Pickard-Samuel of St. Thomas, acting president of ONVI. "We are not into divisiveness. We respect everyone's race, color and creed. We want to be respected as native Virgin Islanders. We want to preserve our heritage and culture. We want that respect just as we respect anyone who comes here and contributes."
ONVI did not refer to the intermittent controversy about how a native Virgin Islander should be defined.
In an earlier press release, ONVI claimed that Virgin Islanders who could trace their ancestors to the islands prior to Feb. 28, 1927, were "entitled to native status."
That's the date, 10 years after the U.S. purchased the islands from Denmark, when Congress granted local residents U.S. citizenship.
But Congress never defined the term "native Virgin Islander," nor does the Census. The question about race asks what race the respondent "considers himself/herself to be."
Furthermore, respondents are invited to give more than one answer in the interests of accuracy. A local resident, for example, could check the box for "Black, African Am., or Negro" or the box for "White" and also write in under "Some other race" the description "native Virgin Islander."