My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Sitka’

Yes, I am still harping on the $23K totem pole!

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The Juneau Empire brings us the following story about the $23,000 totem pole:

Totem pole, after boosting 2010 census count, heads to new home
By Pat Forgey | JUNEAU EMPIRE

Traditional dancers gathered at the base of Mount Roberts Monday for a ceremony sending off the “Census Totem Pole,” carved to tell the story of the 2010 Census.

This year has marked an unprecedented effort by the U.S. Census Bureau to get a complete enumeration of some of Alaska’s most difficult to count populations, the widely scattered, predominately native villages throughout rural Alaska.

That included commissioning a totem pole to tell the story of the census.

Sitka carver Tommy Joseph called a census-themed totem “out of the ordinary,” but said its mission and symbolism was important.

The totem itself contains representations of Raven and Eagle at either end to reflect the two Tlingit moeities that make up all the people.

“Everybody needs to be counted,” Joseph said.

Also on the totem are multiple hand prints, contributed by visitors to Joseph’s studio at the National Park Service’s Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka.

The Census 2010 logo of a hand, along with the motto “It’s in our hands,” are represented by the hand prints, Joseph said.

Those contributing the prints included a schoolteacher, a janitor, a fisherman, a judge, a weaver and a young girl, he said, reflecting the challenge.

“Everybody needs to be counted,” he said.

The Census 2010 took a step towards closing down its counting operations Friday, with the shutting down of its toll-free telephone questionnaire assistance line.

Now, the Census totem will be shipped to the U.S. Census Bureau’s headquarters near Washington, D.C.

Early Monday morning, before the day’s four cruise ships had arrived, census officials, local dignitaries, dancers and honorary bearers showed up for the send-off. The census totem has already visited several other Alaska and Pacific Northwest communities to help the Census 2010 campaign.

State Sen. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, and chairman of Sealaska Corp., said it was an appropriate way to mark the movement of the totem from Alaska to its permanent home at the Census Bureau’s headquarters.

The totem is more than just the wood, in this case red cedar from Prince of Wales Island, from which it is made.

“The totem and the culture are the same,” he said.

The complete count is important to Alaska’s Native population, he said, because undercounting will result in less influence when it comes to representing rural and Native issues, he said.

“We lose representation in the Senate if we don’t get a good count,” he said.

Katherine Eldemar, who with Assemblyman Bob Doll chairs the city’s Complete Count Committee, praised the Census Bureau for the steps it took in 2010 to reach out to the communities it has had difficulty counting in the past.

She called the team handling Alaska “outstanding civil servants.”

Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, said he hoped the efforts pioneered here this year will be used in future censuses.

“I hope the Census Bureau in (2020) will bring the totem pole back to Alaska,” and make a similarly strong effort at a count, he said.

Among those participating in the ceremony at the Mount Roberts Tramway, owned by Goldbelt Corp., was Goldbelt Chairman Randy Wanamaker, along with Ed Thomas of the Tlingit-Haida Central Council and Kake Tribal Corp.’s Harold Martin.

As the honorary bearers carried the totem pole out of the building to begin its trip east, the Children of All Nations dance group sang.

Then, having seen the totem pole off to its new home, and with the Golden Princess moving in to dock, the traditional dancers left and turned the waterfront over the day’s influx of tourists.

Sending a 2010 Census totem pole from Alaska to Washington – On your dime!

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

UPDATE: Steve Jost just wrote the following to me:

The image you posted is not that of the 2010 Census Totem.  You can see the totem in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny0-29Ig-FY

Since you have prejudged the value of this important promotional effort before knowing anything about the cost, I’m doubtful the following will be of much solace to you.

In early 2010 while plans were being made for the first enumeration in Noorvik, Alaska, one of the oldest native organizations in the state made a significant gesture. The Alaska Native Brotherhood passed a resolution supporting the Census and forming the creation of a totem pole to mark this significant event.  Our Seattle Region put together a plan to commission the art, and have it travel Alaska and Washington State tribal events for several months  to promote participation in the 2010 Census.  The totem pole is a storytelling icon steeped in the culture and traditions of the Alaska Native and Northwest Pacific Coastal peoples. It is an immediately recognizable symbol to the native people throughout America’s largest state.

The art was commissioned at a cost of $20,000.  The cost to have it travel across the country for permanent display at Census is $3,111.   We believe strongly that this has been a very effective promotional investment that symbolizes the Census Bureau’s constitutional mandate to ensure a complete count of all tribal lands, especially the 564 Federally recognized tribes.  The response to the Census Totem encouraged us to find a permanent home for it here at our headquarters along with other historical Census artifacts.

Now, this must be one of the most flagrant instances of waste that I have ever read about. A “totem pole” that has been created to celebrate the 2010 Census is traveling thousands of miles from Juneau, Alaska to Washington D.C. I’ve already e-mailed Steve Jost at the Census Bureau to find out some more info about the cost of this commission and the transportation of this object. Here’s the report from the Juneau Empire:

JUNEAU – For the first time in history, the 2010 Census commissioned Sitka carver Tommy Joseph to design and carve a totem pole specifically for the Census. Since its completion this spring, the totem pole has traveled throughout many communities in Southeast Alaska during the census data collection process. The totem is currently on display at Goldbelt’s Mt. Roberts Tramway in Juneau.

A celebration and dedication will be held as the totem begins its journey to its new home at the Census Bureau’s headquarters near Washington, D.C. All are invited to attend the celebration beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 2 at the Mount Roberts Tramway. Meet the artist, enjoy traditional songs and dances performed by the Children of All Nations, and join the event with other special guests.