By Alan Sorensen
ROCKY BOY Census 2000 at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation will have a more "up close and personal" touch than the census taking in Havre and other communities.
That's one reason that the first official census taking day at Rocky Boy was 17 days later than the rest of the state.
"April 1, we'll be in the houses," said Morris St. Pierre, Chippewa Cree Tribal Liaison with the U.S. Census Office.
Tim Mack, of the area census office in Great Falls, said in February that he was excited about the first-time on-reservation census.
"We're going to hire tribal people to work on tribal land. Our goal is to hire enrolled members," Mack said. "We're planning on having about 20 census takers. That number can go up, it won't go down."
The first of the enumerators (census takers) were trained just last week at Rocky Boy, St. Pierre said. The second group was undergoing a training session at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church at the same time as the Census 2000 kickoff luncheon was being held just up the road at the Senior Center.
More enumerators will be hired until the tribal corps contains the required number of employees. St. Pierre said a few extras may be screened and trained to cover in case some of the enumerators drop out for one reason or another.
St. Pierre and the first nine census employees on the reservation were on hand Monday to answer questions about the census process at Rocky Boy.
Harriet St. Pierre, trainer and crew leader, has held numerous jobs with the tribal census program, including recruiting assistant, since December. Diane Watson is another crew leader and Corey Lodge Pole is an assistant crew leader.
Enumerators on the job Monday were Russell Piapot, Ervin Kenneth Watson, Steve Morsette, Penny Parker, Maynard Limberhand, and Sharon Watson.
After their training, the first eight enumerators took their training into the community.
"We've kind of done some of the exercises and some field training canvassing and mapping," enumerator Maynard Limberhand said.
"They came back with the problems they encountered and they met and resolved them," St. Pierre said.
Unlike other communities, where the majority of the residents will simply fill out forms and mail them back to census offices, Rocky Boy census takers will visit every home on the reservation.
"Each one of us is assigned a block in a community, some up to five or 10 miles wide or long, and we go in and find each house," Limberhand said.
As an example, Limberhand showed a map of one block of homes that consisted of Upper Buttercup and Little Buttercup roads. The area contained 28 homes on the map.
"We'll double check addresses and make sure everything coincides with our maps and all of our data, our addresses. It's to confirm all addresses and people who stay there. Then we go and talk with the people."
On their visits, the enumerators will help the residents fill out either the long or short census form. All information is strictly confidential.