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Census Responds To Mapping Questions

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Utica, NY (WIBX) – The US Census Bureau has responded to media inquiries questioning why the size of the Oneida Nation Reservation boundaries were dramatically increased in the latest census maps.

Census officials said in an email that the Oneida Nation called attention to the previous census maps depicting only 32 acres of land in central New York, saying it was incorrect.

Officials say, in accordance with policy, the census office contacted the Department of the Interior which agreed with the Oneida’s assertion that it owned 307,000 acres in Oneida, Madison and Lewis Counties.

The Census Bureau says it made the boundary change in a manner consistent with the Department of the Interior opinion.

Below is the e-mail received from Tom Edwards with the media relations branch of the Census Bureau.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS) annually to collect information about legally defined geographic areas. The BAS is used to update information about the legal boundaries and names of all governmental units in the United States. The Census Bureau uses the boundary information collected in the BAS to tabulate data. The Census Bureau plays no role in the determination of legal boundaries.

Oneida Reservation Boundary Validation

The Oneida Reservation responded to the Boundary Validation Program (in which the Census Bureau provided the 2010 Census boundary as illustrated in the TIGER database to all governmental and tribal entities) that the boundaries of their federal reservation were incorrect. Their letter, dated June 15, 2010, depicted 300,000 acres of reservation, while the Census Bureau’s TIGER database depicted only 40 acres.

As per Federal Register Notice Vol. 73, No. 221 (Nov. 14, 2008) which reads “In support of the government-to-government relationship with federally recognized American Indian tribes, the Census Bureau works directly with tribal officials. All issues that relate to treaty interpretation or legal actions that are disputed by an adjacent or enclosed governmental unit as part of the Boundary Annexation Survey are referred to the Department of Interior Office of the Solicitor and/or the Bureau of Indian Affairs for an official opinion”. As per this Federal Register Notice, the Census Bureau then contacted the Department of the Interior.

On October 4, 2010, the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, as the authoritative source, confirmed that the Oneida Reservation boundary depicting 300,000 acres of reservation was correct.

Accordingly, the Census Bureau made the boundary change in a manner consistent with the Department of the Interior opinion.

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