“No-action alternative”; as the preferred alternative in the Tongass National Forest, Alaska Roadless Rulemaking process.

May 27, 2020
Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue
SW Washington, DC 20250

Dear Honorable Secretary Perdue,

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) requests the U.S. Forest Service to fully protect
designated roadless areas in the Tongass National Forest. ATNI stands in support and solidarity
with the Organized Village of Kake and several other Southeast Alaska Tribes, which have made it
very clear that any rule that weakens or eliminates Roadless Rule protections within Tribal
traditional territory of the Tongass National Forest will substantially affect Southeast Tribes’
inherent Tribal rights to traditional and customary uses of the land.
During ATNI’s Annual Convention on October 10, 2019, nearly 50 member Tribes from SE Alaska,
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Northern California passed resolution #19-58, which
supported the ‘no-action alternative’ as the preferred alternative in the Tongass National
Forest, Alaska Roadless Rulemaking process.

On October 15, 2019, the United States Forest Service (USFS) released the Draft Tongass Rule
that proposed granting a complete exemption to the 2001 National Roadless Conservation Rule.
The USFS is advancing the Tongass Roadless final rule review even though a state of national
emergency has been declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Organized Village of
Kake and other Southeast Alaska Tribes have raised serious concerns about the USFS closing a
cooperator review input period for the draft final rule one week after the national emergency was
declared. This is an unconscionable act without any consideration of the good faith efforts of
Tribes trying to protect their customary and traditional lands. 

President Trump issued an executive order declaring a state of national emergency on March 13,
2020, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.  Since then, numerous U.S.
governmental organizations, including the U.S. Supreme Court and the Internal Revenue Service,
have announced extensions of normal filing deadlines because of ongoing public health concerns
relating to COVID-19.  Additionally, Alaska Governor Dunleavy has instituted numerous restrictions
limiting the public’s ability to gather, work, and travel. Southeast Tribal communities are exhausting
all available resources to prepare and address this health crisis in their communities. All of these
restrictions make it extremely challenging, if not impossible, to engage in federal rulemaking.
Around March 7, 2020, the Forest Service sent Southeast Alaska Tribal cooperators a pre-public
draft, final environmental impact statement, and requested feedback by March 21, 2020. The
Forest Service did not suspend this process or extend this deadline even though a national
pandemic emergency had been declared in the interim. 

Southeast Tribes involved in Forest Service planning processes, like most communities, are
entirely focused on the COVID-19 crisis and are unable to devote the time and attention to
participate meaningfully during this declared national emergency health crisis.  Tribes and Tribal
leaders are working hard to keep their respective communities and families healthy and safe while
complying with the extraordinary restrictions being implemented to contain and limit the spread of
the disease.  COVID-19 has disrupted normal working, schooling, and living conditions, impairing
the ability of many parents, elders, and members of the general public to go about their daily
routines and conduct regular business, much less weigh in on Forest Service actions.  

In-person meetings that are essential for high-quality Tribal participation and consultation in
planning processes cannot take place, as Tribes must maintain the recommended or mandated
health standards and “social distancing” required to protect vulnerable populations. Virtual
meetings and other online tools cannot meet the requirements of a robust discussion that would
inform a Tribal position on draft documents. Many Tribal communities do not have the technology,
internet resources, or bandwidth necessary to enable participation in virtual meetings or to review
of large documents. This problem is compounded by the closures of Forest Service offices and
local libraries, preventing access to online or hard copies of planning documents.  Any existing
digital platforms and networks, especially in remote, rural areas, are being overwhelmed with
increased demands at this time, which will further impede connection and participation.  
The fact is the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to create significant challenges for Southeast
Alaska Tribal communities and all of Indian Country. Until Tribes can fully participate, ATNI
requests that USDA/USFS suspend the roadless review process and retroactively suspend the
cooperator review timeframe, until the national emergencies concluded.  

After the national emergency has been lifted, Southeast Alaska Tribes will be able to meaningfully
fulfill their role as cooperators and provide a comprehensive review of the pre-public rule
documents at that time.  Such action would be consistent with the President’s emergency
declaration to improve public engagement and build goodwill with many stakeholders during these
unprecedented and challenging times.


Terri Parr
Executive Director

WA Tribal Partnership Update

Self-Response Period — UnderwayMarch 12 – Oct. 31      
Field Operations Restart – UnderwayMay 11   
Update Leave — UnderwayMay 11
Group Quarters (paper and e-response)April 2 – Sept. 3
Group Quarters  (in-person enumeration)July 1 – Sept. 3
Non-Response Follow-UpAug. 11 – Oct. 31
Transitory LocationsSept. 3-28
Counting the HomelessTBC
Mobile Questionnaire AssistanceTBC

Last week Washington State resumed the Update Leave operation. Tribal Partnership Specialists reached out to the Census Liaisons to request permission to resume/conduct the operation on reservations. The Quinault Reservation and the Chehalis Reservation started receiving their census invitation packets last week.  This week Spokane Reservation will receive theirs and next week Kalispel will begin to get theirs.  The packets have unique Census IDs to use online or to call in, it also has a paper form.  We anticipate an increase in these tribal reservation response rates.  The National rate is 59.6%, the State is at 64.9%. Our top ten reservation response rates are:

  1. Port Gamble S’Klallam 75.2%
  2. Puyallup 66.9%
  3. Port Madison 60.6%
  4. Swinomish 58.6%
  5. Tulalip 56.7%
  6. Muckleshoot 54.0%
  7. Nisqually 52.7%
  8. Shoalwater Bay 51.2%
  9. Lummi 50.2%
  10. Lower Elwha 48.2%

Tribal HighlightsSamish Indian Nation- Created a 2020 Census info page you can find on their website. https://www.samishtribe.nsn.us/departments/planning/census-2020
Puyallup Tribe of Indians- Placed census message on Emerald Queen Casino digital billboard on I5 (see attached image).
Nisqually Indian Tribe- Sent a letter from the Chairman to all enrolled members encouraging participation in the Census.
What you can do

  • Encourage people to apply for census enumerator jobs at https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html  Tribal members should list their tribes language, no matter their fluency level.
  • Write an article for your tribal newspaper
  • Create social media posts encouraging people to self-respond
  • Contact all your relatives and ask them to do their census!
  • Stay in touch with your Tribal Partnership Specialist

FarewellToday is the last working day for TPS Darin Yackeschi.  His tour of duty with census is at an end.  Darin worked on everything from Paddle To Lummi census outreach, to individual tribal government relationships, to Native Vote tour. We will miss him and appreciate his teamwork.  Best wishes Darin!
Sioquial,Alaina Capoeman (Quinault)2020 Census Tribal Partnership Specialist WA Lead

Los Angeles Regional Office, U.S. Census Bureau

Cell: 360.862.3108

census.gov Connect with us on Social Media

2020 Census Tribal Listening Session

The U.S. Census Bureau is hosting a listening session with federally and state recognized tribes, and AIAN organizations across the country. This listening session is to continue our ongoing communication, with an update on 2020 Decennial Operations, the 2020 Disclosure Avoidance System (DAS) and the geographic hierarchy of DAS. The DAS is a new, advanced, and far more powerful confidentiality protection system than previously used that employs a rigorous mathematical process to protect respondents’ information and identity.

This national webinar will provide a forum for tribal stakeholders to learn more about 2020 Decennial Operational updates, the transition to the DAS to protect information provided by respondents on the 2020 Census, and the geographic hierarchy of DAS.

The 2020 Census Tribal Listening Session will be held at the following date and time:

Friday, May 15, 2020 | 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. EST

URL to participate in webinar: https://censusevent.webex.com/censusevent/onstage/g.php?MTID=e0869a03d8b49d009c2853e45c952a859

Dial-in Information to join the audio conference portion of the webinar:

1-888-989-7592 | Passcode: 6547188

** If prompted when logging into WebEx, password is “census”

If you have any questions prior to the webinar, please contact Dee Alexander at (301) 763-9335, or ocia.tao@census.gov.

Census Bureau to Resume Some 2020 Census Field Operations in Select Locations

May 4, 2020 —The U.S. Census Bureau, in coordination with Federal, State and local health officials, will begin a phased restart of some 2020 Census field operations in select geographic areas this week.

Updates on the operations resuming by location are available at [2020census.gov]2020census.gov. This webpage will be updated weekly as 2020 Census operations resume across the United States.

The health and safety of Census Bureau staff and the public is of the utmost importance. All returning staff will receive safety training to observe social distancing protocols in the COVID-19 environment. For their safety and the safety of the public, the Census Bureau has ordered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all field staff, including those that work in a field office. These materials will be secured and provided to staff prior to restarting operations.

As part of the phased restart of operations, the Census Bureau will resume dropping off 2020 Census invitation packets at front doors of households in areas where the majority of households do not receive mail at their home. This operation is also known as Update Leave. About 5% of households are counted in the Update Leave operation, where census workers will confirm or update a household’s physical location address and then leave a census questionnaire packet.

The Census Bureau began delivering census materials to these households on March 15; however, this operation was suspended on March 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Update Leave operation does not require interaction between households and a Census Bureau employee and follows the most current federal health and safety guidelines. In states where we have resumed the Update Leave operation, we are also resuming fingerprinting for new hires to keep applicants moving through the hiring process. ACO staff will begin returning to the office as necessary to support the Update Leave operation, as well.

The Associate Director for Decennial Programs leads the operational team making the decision to restart select operations within an ACO, driven by the assessment of career Census Bureau operational leadership; a thorough review of the operating status of a state, locality or tribal area; the key data that support that operating status as identified by Federal, State and local guidance; and the ability of Census Bureau staff to safely resume operations, including the procurement of PPE.

Households that receive the 2020 Census invitation packets are strongly encouraged to respond promptly to the 2020 Census using the census ID included in the questionnaire packet. People can respond online, by phone or by completing and returning the paper form by mail. Responding with the census ID or by completing and returning the paper questionnaire helps ensure the best count of their communities. 

For more information, please visit the 2020 Census COVID-19 operational adjustments page.

About the Intergovernmental Affairs Office: Tribal Affairs

The Tribal Affairs team works closely with American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) tribal nations on a government-to-government basis to address issues concerning tribal self-government. The government-to-government relation is based on the United States Constitution, federal treaties, policy, law, court decisions, executive orders, and the ongoing political relationship among tribal nations and the federal government. The Intergovernmental Affairs Office serves as the principal liaison office for tribal affairs and is the principal advisor to the Director and executive staff on tribal issues and concerns. The team’s work focuses on collaborating with other agencies, building and maintaining relationships with tribal leaders, tribal associations, and tribal citizens in order to educate, inform, consult and share program information from across the U.S. Census Bureau.


Dee Alexander
Tribal Affairs Coordinator

U.S. Census Bureau

Have you been laid off or have your hours been reduced due to COVID-19?

You may be eligible for expanded unemployment benefits through the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD).

This includes people who work for tribes, tribally owned businesses, small businesses, If you are denied unemployment benefits, the Unemployment Law Project (ULP) may be able to

help you . Call ULP today :

• (509) 624-9178 or toll-free at (800) 940-9178 (Spokane)

• (206) 441 -9178 or toll free at 1-888-441-9178 (Seattle)

Or, if you think you’re low -income , you can call the Northwest Justice Project’s CLEAR Hot line at 1- 888-201-1014 weekdays between 9:15 am – 12:15 pm.


• Use the UI Checklist to help you apply for unemployment.

• When applying , start with the website first before you call.

• Due to an unprecedented increase in unemployment, the Employment Security Department (ESD) is very busy. Keep calling. Don’t give up.

• Because the laws have changed and the systems to handle all the changes are still being implemented, you may be initially denied. You can appeal and a legal advocate from ULP or NJP may be able to help you.

• Stay up-to -date by signing up for ESD’sC QYID-19 actiona lerts .

Recent changes to Unemployment Insurance:

• Job search requirements are optional.

• There is no waiting week before you get benefits.

• Although the Federal Stimulus package has passed, ESD estimates that it will take them until April 18, 2020 to get the Unemployment Assistance portion of the legislation up and running. ESO will then be able to make retroactive payments for both the weekly benefit amount owed as well as the additional $600 per week.