May 22 1995
Simone Wilson, Proposal Writer
Nez Perce Tribe
P.O. Box 365
Lapwai, ID 83540
SUBJECT: Background on Tribal Data Resources (TDR), Redding, California.
I received your letter of inquiry regarding Tribal Data Resources (TDR). By way of personal background let me tell you that I worked in the Planning Department for the Hoopa Valley Tribe for four years, that I was the Business Manager for the Karuk Tribe for nearly two years, and until recently served on the Karuk Tribal Council for the past six years. Additionally, I have managed my own development consulting firm since 1989. 1 give you this information on my professional background so that you can understand my appreciation for quality statistics and demographic information.
I have been recommending TDR’s services to tribal clients at least since 1989. Furthermore, I was a strong proponent for TDR’s complete census program and software package for my own tribe. As I recall our tribal investment at the time was over $25,000. But I recognized at the time that our tribal planners and grantwriter’s were not only limited by the qualitative lack of consistent tribal information, but the 1990 census was woefully inaccurate with regards to our tribal population. Without TDR’s statistical ammunition the tribe would have been ill equipped to bring in the wealth of Federal and state dollars in grants and contracts that we have secured since the early 90’s. Repeatedly, the tribe has had documented data that is superior to the census information possessed by every federal agency involved in tribal affairs. As a matter of fact, the Karuk Tribe’s Treasurer said at a recent meeting that even though she was unsure of our investment at the time, she had to admit that our purchase of TDR’s services has proven to pay for itself time and again. But I digress from your original questions:
In fact, one of the strongest arguments for utilizing Rick Anderson and his company is that once you make the initial investment, annual updated information is simple and inexpensive. You can either have TDR archive the data and maintain it for your tribe, or the tribe can purchase the software and up date the information by themselves (I would encourage you to have TDR archive the information after the first year or until you have someone trained and responsible for the up dates).
- Tribal staff, restricted to administration and planning, has access to this specific, and confidential information. However, any tribal member or any member of the general public could request a copy of a Tribal Census Report and see the information compiled in the aggregate.
- The information is used regularly either in new or competing funding proposals to demonstrate need. Typical census or demographic data are reported as part of this information, e.g. population, age distributions, personal income, educational levels, health, housing, and employment statistics. Also, on your up dates you can add questions that are of interest to the tribal government: e.g. are you in support of gaming? are you interested in seeing the tribe change its enrollment procedures? etc.
- This data can help policy makers better understand issues of concern to their tribal membership, and it can help administrators and planners design effective programs that can compete better for financing.
- The Karuk Tribe tries to update the data annually. The census takers are trained in the methodology and are regularly employed clerical staff. The updates are done primarily over the phone.
- The census was originally funded through a variety or sources but primarily through the tribe’s unrestricted funds that were a result of taxing a contractor for the construction of housing units on the reservation.
- The census information is secured in computers at the Tribe’s headquarters and backed-up in archival storage at TDR’s offices. It is not only easy to access this information if you have the proper passwords but it is also easy to input changes in the information.
- The Karuk Tribe has an enrolled membership of over 2,100 and has annual operating budget of over $5 million. I believe we started the project in 1991. Since we were trying to use the data for a HUD CDBG application we were able to report aspects of the Tribal Census in less than 3 months time, but the total project is ongoing because we are committed to continually upgrading the information since it represents the backbone of the tribe’s overall grantsmanship strategy.
I hope my thoughts have better informed your decision regarding the use of TDR’s program. If you have any other questions please feel free to call me at 530.627.3354 or to fax me 916.627.3526