Parenting is a noble task, but one that comes with a number of challenges. Every parent often wants the best for his or her child, but not all of them are able to do this. In this study, the primary aim of the researcher is to investigate and report the lived experiences of the Native American mothers who are living off the reservations. Current studies show that Native American women currently prefer parenting their children off reservations because of their lived experiences in these camps. The review of literatures reveals that the historical trauma that these parents had while living in these reservations, especially the discrimination by the Whites affected their affection towards people around them, including their children. The literature also reveals that most of these parents prefer raising their children off these reservations so that they can have better experiences and ability to integrate with other Americans as they grow. Defining the methodology used in the study is very important, and this is explained in chapter three. It looks at how data will be collected and analyzed in order to make a meaningful conclusion. Instruments of data collection and analysis, and issues about ethics and validity of the study are also looked at in this chapter.
Introduction to the Study
For most parents, raising children is a difficult feat. To parents belonging to a cultural minority, it is more challenging because they must also deal with issues such as stereotyping and limited opportunities in the society, which may affect their parenting (Jacobs, 2013). Limited opportunities in accessing quality education and decent employment limit their ability to provide for their children in the best way possible. Families do not live in an isolated environment where they can create their rules and abide by them. Because they belong to a larger society, they need to adapt to its rules and dominant culture (Ross, 2014). One rule is the family’s adjustment to the prevailing culture they live in while retaining some valuable remnants of their original culture. Another is the management of negative stereotypes and the corresponding discrimination. These negative environmental forces affect their ability to achieve the socio-economic success that would make them become capable parents to their children.
The minorities are just as important to the American society as other major communities. Their culture is not inferior to the dominant cultures, and therefore, retaining the culture is a way of protecting the diversity in the country. For these reasons, it is necessary to have a community of minority parents where they can care for their children without the fear of stereotyping or discrimination. According to Ross (2014), it is necessary to have reservations for Native American parents as a way of retaining their identity and promoting their self-esteem. These children will grow up knowing that there is nothing wrong with their unique identity and cultural practices.
For Native American women not living on American Indian reservations, life is full of uncertainty. According to research by Jacobs (2013), 22% of the American Indians and Alaska Natives live on reservation. The number has been going down, but the change is gradual because the society is still stereotypical of the minorities, and they are not offered the best opportunity to explore their potentials. Native American women have to contend with gender inequality in society because women are still considered inferior to men (Bigfoot & Funderburk, 2011). It is easier for men to get opportunities of success in life than it is for women. They also have to deal with the cultural dominance of the environment in which they live. They have to accept a minor role to than of men as their cultural practices demand (Brodie, 2012). There is bound to be more if that woman is raising children. She has the usual issues of raising children and instilling in them the values they would need to be responsible adults. She may be doing so without guidance if she does not have easy access to the wisdom of her tribal elders from the reservations.
Considering the long history of struggles and social alienation of the Native American people, the plight of a Native American mother raising her children outside the reservation is worth exploring. She and the marginalized population of women in her same predicament in dire need of support and to offer it to them, their situations need to be examined. My research study aims to do just that.
Background of the Study
I find it quite concerning that studies on Native American women have mostly yielded dreary findings. An example is the high dropout rates among these women, which, in one study was even higher as compared to other women in the United States (Bigfoot & Funderburk, 2011). Examining the causes of dropout was even more saddening. Native American high school girls who leave school before they graduate were usually troubled by poverty, alcoholism, drug use or teenage pregnancy. Their attitude towards education differs from that of non-Native peers. Native American girls did not seem to value it as much as their peers did. Those who live off the reservations live with greater risks to their safety and well-being because they live separate from their families who may have chosen to stay with the tribe.
Young girls who come from troubled households have emotional bruises. Being exposed at home to parental domestic violence, drug and alcohol use, and unemployment may force these young girls to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms to numb the pain of their unfortunate conditions. These coping mechanisms include engaging in drug and alcohol use as well, being sexually active even before they are ready and being delinquent in their schooling. If these girls end up with an unwanted pregnancy and decide to raise the baby themselves, the vicious cycle of bad parenting continues as they do not have a good role model to emulate.
Gray, Shafer, Limb, and Busby (2013) analyzed the differences between children reared by Native American Indian and Caucasian families, concluding that Native American Indian children would benefit from the traditional values and practices inherited from their ancestors. These include strong respect for elders, the sanctity of marriage and the importance of community. Native American mothers, especially those who are single parents, need equipping with the parenting skills necessary to keep their Native values instilled in their children. Researchers such as Giles-Sims and Lockhart have acknowledged that ‘culturally shaped parenting strategies’ exist and Native American mothers would be aware of these (Brodie, 2012).
It is critical to focus a set of challenges that face Native American women. I believe that examining how these women raise their children off the reservations is worth the effort (Frank, 2013). In the course of my research of the related literature, I found that there was a dearth of studies investigating first-hand experiences of Native American women living outside the reservations, as well as their parenting concerns. This research intends to fill that gap. Studies such as that of Frank (2013) and Brodie (2012) have focused on this topic, but there are issues that they do not cover adequately. It will enable the targeted Native American women to share the experiences that they have gone through living both on and off the reservation as well as their issues and concerns in parenting (Bigfoot & Funderburk, 2011). The sub-groups involved in this study are Native American mothers with enrollment in the federally recognized Tribe of the Crow Tribe of Montana, and their children. One can argue that these mothers and their children are currently being marginalized by the state (Frank, 2013). In their study, Brodie (2012) recommends that more research should be done to determine factors that are driving Native Americans out of the reservations.
Compared to other ethnic minority groups, Native Americans have the highest birth rate and are thrice more likely to live in poverty compared to their white counterparts. Life on the Native American reservation carries a description as hard and impoverished. Frank (2013) says that Native Americans experience multiple times the national rate for infant deaths, alcoholism, and malnutrition. The life expectancy of Native American residing on a reservation is decades less than that of the national average. Native American women are part of a marginalized population who endured a painful history of relocation from their homeland. This relocation affects both the people’s collective and personal identity formation and relationship patterns in successive generations (Bigfoot & Funderburk, 2011). Thus, traditional culture and values have not been kept intact, resulting in the people most at a loss of how to effectively manage themselves, their relationships with their families and others.
In leaving the reservations, people become uprooted from their native culture and need to adapt to a new one. Sometimes, they get confused about their cultural identity, being caught in between two cultures. Native American women may undergo such an acculturation phase. Their cultural confusion will be passed on to their children, especially if they continue to live outside the reservations. Most Native American women struggle in their lives off the reservation. They find it difficult to find jobs because of discrimination in the workplace. If they do succeed in gaining employment, they are usually paid very low because they do not possess the skills and education for higher paying jobs. Their pay is miserable their efforts. Life off the reservation is very hard for them. This difficulty will multiply once they become mothers, as the issue of raising their offspring becomes an extra burden especially if they are doing it singlehandedly. Brodie (2012) reports that younger Native American mothers are not equipped to handle the mature demands of motherhood. Especially if they have exposure to inappropriate parenting skills from their parents, it is likely that they repeat the cycle of poor parenting with their children.
My study shall explore the insights of Native American mothers who have chosen to live outside the reservations. Their way of living, their parenting methods, their challenges and achievements and others shall be investigated through personal interviews. My study will increase the current body of research for Native American mothers and their children residing off of the reservation.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of Native American women living off the reservation regarding their current living conditions, their quality of life and their parenting experiences in raising their children. Interviews with a selected group of Native American women who are members of the federally recognized Tribe of the Crow Tribe of Montana, ask what it means for them to grow up on the reservation as well as their experiences there that led them to choose to raise their children off the reservations. My study will look at what challenges they are facing as women and as mothers now that they live apart from their tribal community. If their accounts are consistent with literature reports of not having enough opportunities to better themselves and that their children suffer from dilemmas about their cultural identity, then this study submits itself to government and non-government organizations to consider how to help them achieve a better quality of life.
The justification of this research lies in the fact that the selected subject is under-studied as they are possible sources of abundant information about contemporary Native American culture and the coping styles of women who are surviving their lives outside their comfort zones (Brodie, 2012). It is also an ambitious attempt to look into the sociological lens of Native American parenting in a more modern American culture. Taking a holistic perspective, the researcher considers the history of the Native American people and the effects of the various events that transpired in the past on their current value system, lifestyle and shared perspectives. Analyzing the consequences of the population’s historical trauma from being ousted from their native lands and its effects on their family system shall be helpful in further following women who decide to live independent from the tribe outside the reservations. Their adjustment to another culture, perhaps vastly different from their own will have new challenges that may either frustrate them or push them to be stronger survivors. Transitioning to motherhood is again another chapter they confront in their lives. With all the events concurrently happening in their lives, the strength of character and personality of Native American mothers is consistently tested. It is worth evaluating how they manage their lives, draw from their innate strengths to help them get through it and to stand proud as a Native American woman and mother.
Beyond the awareness that the participants of this study can provide is the call for understanding they deserve for what their struggles. Society can be hasty in judging such women based on the common cases of inappropriate parenting, heightened drug and alcohol use, tolerance for domestic abuse and other dire truths suffered by some Native American women. It is fair first to have an understanding of where they are coming from and instead of criticizing them, provide the necessary assistance to help them rise from their sad situations and help them live better and more productive lives. If not, it is their children who will carry the brunt of the vicious cycle left to them as their legacy.
There are several reasons why it is important to examine the topic. Gaining first-hand information from Native American mothers with regards to their current life conditions, child rearing and the challenges they encounter in their everyday life is an essential step in identifying their needs. The findings of this study may be suggested to legislators, politicians, and public administrators to understand the challenges faced by Native American women living off reservations. This study is useful for policy development and decision-making for the welfare of the women and their children. Non-governmental organizations concerned with improving the living standards on Native American reservations will also find this study relevant to their mission.
I will use the following research questions to guide my investigation:
RQ1. What does it mean for a Native American woman to grow up on the Native American Indian reservation?
RQ2. What experiences have led Native American women who grew up on the reservations to choose to raise their children off the reservations?
RQ3. What challenges do women who grew up on the reservations face when they try to raise their children off the reservations?
RQ4. What are the reasons for Native American women who grew up on the reservations chose to stay with their children off the reservation?
Theoretical Framework for the Study
To more clearly understand Native American women and their present situation, I will use a theoretical framework composed of four theories: historical trauma theory, systems theory, acculturation theory, and strengths perspectives theory. These theories have widely been used to explain the structures of the societies and how people relate (Ross, 2014). The researcher will look at the relevance of each theory to this study. Beginning with historical trauma theory, I will show how previous research can build a foundation for understanding the strengths and struggles of the Native American mother.
Historical Trauma Theory
Native Americans have been historically traumatized from their negative experiences being ousted and relocated from their homeland throughout history. Unlike personal trauma, their people’s historical trauma focuses on their collective trauma as families, and this trauma will pass and even amplified from one generation to the next (Campbell & Evans-Campbell, 2011). Historical trauma affects both the people’s collective and personal identity formation and relationship patterns in successive generations (Brodie, 2012).
Another theory that can explain Native American historical trauma is the Systems Theory. Systems Theory explores human experiences and behavior patterns. The theory states that humans seek homeostasis. About this study, it theorizes that each member of the Native American family system plays a role that contributes to the synchronized functioning of the system (Gray et al., 2013). Each member keeps his or her role so children who have formed the part in a relationship pattern will likewise form similar relationships with others who can work within the same family system (Bigfoot & Funderburk, 2011). Hence, if the traumatic experience has altered family relationship roles, then it may also negatively influence succeeding relationship patterns. If a child grows up accustom to their parents being often intoxicated resulting in leaving them in the care of their grandparents, they may follow the same modeled pattern when they grow up. Alcoholism is acceptable as a way of life, and grandparents have the parenting responsibilities. Studies of Campbell and Evans-Campbell (2011), Frank (2013) and Yoshida and Busby (2011) found that an individual’s view of their parents’ marital quality and the impact of their family of origin can predict their marital stability and satisfaction in life.
When people are being uprooted from their native culture and transported into a new one, they undergo acculturation or adaptation to the new culture. Goodkind (2012) theorized that immigrants assimilate the language and behaviors of the people in the host culture first followed by structural assimilation. Assimilation involves the social and economic integration into the new culture. Finally, some immigrants get to the last stage of assimilation, where they identify with the new culture and abandon their identification with their culture of origin. Gordon suggested that assimilation may affect more first-generation adult immigrants than their children who are born into the new culture. He also enumerated the components of language, behavior, and identity as indices of acculturation.
Over time, an acculturation gap grows between children and parents of immigrant families, with the parents holding on to their traditional culture and the children acculturating to the new culture (Frank, 2013). Children have less difficulty picking up the new language and learning the traditions and cultural behaviors of the people in the new culture. Consequently, their culture of origin, being less exposed to them, diminishes regarding the effect on their growth and development unless their parents consistently push it to them (Jacobs, 2013). To apply to Native American families, the context of those who are being relocated from their places of origin and how they adjust to their new homes outside the reservation will be considered. An example is a Native American child’s interaction with new adults in his new school may not reinforce the customs and traditions that his parents have shown him leading to a cultural discontinuity between the home and school.
In extreme cases, Native American children are asked to choose between their native heritage and school success and such dilemma leads to disastrous effects (Frank, 2013). Problems like drug and alcohol abuse ensue due to unresolved internal conflicts coming from teachers pressuring students to give up their Native Culture, or at the least, not acknowledging it. Brodie (2012) suggests teaching methods and school curriculum appropriately adjusted to the Native American youth to cut school dropout rates and to lessen cultural conflicts between their home and their school. Culturally appropriate curriculum helps the Native American mothers keep some of the values, customs, and traditions they hold and pass these on to their children even if they are already living outside the reservation.
Strengths Perspective Theory
To overcome the negative experiences in life and create positive developmental outcomes, people need to emphasize their competencies, resilience, resources and protective factors (Jacobs, 2013). The strengths perspective theory purports that to help people identifying securing and sustaining their internal and external resources to help them meet their goals and set up important relationships with the community (Frank, 2013). These relationships are achieved by strengthening existing assets and facilitating the development of new resources to carry out pre-established goals (McMahon, Kenyon, & Carter, 2013). With regards to Native American people who have suffered negative experiences, the Strengths Perspective Theory can become a tool to lift them up and help them to be still productive.
Nature of the Study
The qualitative approach is suitable in those cases when it is necessary to understand the opinions and attitudes of respondents and find specific concerns of people (Cresswell, 2013). By approaching the participants this way, it helps the participants delve deeper into various issues that are currently unknown. This participation is why the qualitative interview is elect as the method of research. This researcher will conduct semi-structured interviews with about 10 Native American women who were raised on Native American reservations but have decided to leave and live outside the external boundaries of the reservation. As Goodkind (2012) says, it is always important to sample a number of respondents that can be used to make generalization. The number used is adequate. The participants are raising their children either single-handedly, with a spouse/partner, or another family member.
My study’s research design is unique to the research topic because it will actively engage the affected population to understand why they are embracing a new trend. Brodie (2012) says that comprehensive studies are yet to be conducted to explain why Native Americans now prefer to raise their children off reservations. Using an in-depth qualitative method of interview, it will specifically focus on an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach which probes deep into an interviewee’s thoughts and feelings to gain a clearer perspective of what she goes through in various situations (Bigfoot & Funderburk, 2011). The study will rely more on the information provided by the interviewees and the quality of that information, and not their number. Only a few credible participants will be selected. Although a smaller sample size has an association with a limitation of a survey because of the supposed lack of contribution of the limited number of participants, a study like this current one shall concentrate on the reduced participant number’s richer and deeper information. The researcher has the luxury of spending more time with each interviewee and drawing out more personal and reflective responses to the questions that may be inhibited with a larger sample (Frank, 2013). This approach to focus on “an interest in the nature of human experience and the meaning that people attach to their experiences, with the assumption that the important reality is what people perceive it to be,” (Brodie, 2012, p. 78). In this case, Native American mothers are expected to disclose their experiences fully as related to the interests of this study. The researcher will ensure that participants give their views freely and without feeling intimidated or forced in any way to participate in this study because as Goodkind (2012) states, this is an ethical requirement when collecting data from human subjects.
Transcription of the interviews in verbatim and the transcripts shall be qualitatively analyzed using Bowen’s method that identifies patterns in the data using thematic codes (Cresswell, 2013). The patterns that may emerge are studied making logical associations with the interview questions with the information from the literature review as a backdrop. I shall confirm if the theories of Historical Trauma, Systems Theory, Acculturation Theory and Strengths Perspective apply to the lives of the participants.
Definitions of Terms
I will use the following definitions to guide my investigation:
Native Americans: refers to the aboriginals of North and South America. Native American is a term most often used by scholars. They often refer to themselves as Indians or Natives (Frank, 2013).
Federally Recognized Tribe: refers to Alaska or Indian Native tribe or community which the Federal government acknowledges its existence as an Indian tribe (Jacobs, 2013).
Native American Reservations: refers to a legally designated land that is managed by the Federally Recognized Tribe under the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (Brodie, 2012).
Western Culture: refers to the traditional norms, social norms, belief systems, ethical values, and political systems that are believed to have originated from or associated with Europe (Campbell & Evans-Campbell, 2011).
Child rearing: is the act of parenting or the bringing up children from a tender age to maturity (Goodkind, 2012).
Mother: refers to a woman who bears a child or children (Ross, 2014).
Extended Family System: is a larger family unit that includes other relatives past the nuclear family members such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins (Frank, 2013).
Assumptions, Delimitations, and Limitations
The first assumption I will make is that the parenting of Native American women differs from their non Native counterparts due to cultural influences. Secondly, it will be assumed that the questions posed in the interviews will sufficiently garner appropriate information. I also will assume that the female participants will be forthcoming and honest to the best of their abilities during the interview process. Confidentiality and anonymity will be preserved, and participants will be told that they can, at any time, withdraw from the study with no ramifications.
Scope and Delimitations
The chosen participant will only be those Native American women who are themselves raised on the reservation, but have chosen to raise their children off the reservation. The scope will be further limited by my use of only one specific Tribe. I will not examine women who had moved off the reservation but had returned before the start of the study. I will also not examine women who will be hoping to leave the reservation but have not made the move before the beginning of the study.
Findings of this research will only be applicable to the narrow population group identified by the study and does not apply to other cultural groups. This limitation should be taken into consideration by any person reading the study. The study will not take into consideration age, socioeconomic status or education level of the participants. Regarding the researcher’s role, my limitation is only to unearth valuable information about the lived experiences of Native American mothers who have decided to raise their children off the reservations. There is no expectation to implement action plans to alleviate their circumstances, although the option exists to inform concerned parties to extend assistance in the rehabilitation of these women if need be without compromising the confidentiality of my research participants.
The justification of this study lies in the fact that the selected subject is under-studied as they are possible sources of rich information about contemporary Native American culture and the coping styles of women who are surviving their lives outside their comfort zones. It is also an ambitious attempt to look into the sociological lens of Native American parenting in a more modern American culture (Frank, 2013). This study may influence policy makers by enabling them understand challenges faced by Native American women living off reservations. They may develop policies that can help overcome these challenges to the benefit of this population.
Taking a holistic perspective, the researcher considers the history of the Native American people and the effects of the various events that transpired in the past on their current value system, lifestyle and shared perspectives. Analyzing the consequences of the population’s historical trauma from being ousted from their native lands and its effects on their family system shall be helpful in further following women who decide to live independent from the tribe outside the reservations. Their adjustment to another culture, perhaps vastly different from their own will have new challenges that may either frustrate them or push them to be stronger survivors. Transitioning to motherhood is again another chapter they confront in their lives. With all the events concurrently happening in their lives, the strength of character and personality of Native American mothers is consistently tested. It is worth evaluating how they manage their lives, draw from their innate strengths to help them get through it and to stand proud as a Native American woman and mother (Ross, 2014). The scholar notes that most of these Native American women are now forced to embrace the popular culture in the United States when raising their children to make them fit in the social system.
Beyond the awareness that the participants of this study can provide is the call for understanding they deserve for what their struggles. Society can be hasty in judging such women based on the common cases of inappropriate parenting, heightened drug and alcohol use, tolerance for domestic abuse and other dire truths suffered by some Native American women. It is fair first to have an understanding of where they are coming from and instead of criticizing them, provide the necessary assistance to help them rise from their sad situations and help them live better and more productive lives. If not, it is their children who will carry the brunt of the vicious cycle left to them as their legacy.
There are several reasons why it is important to examine the topic. Gaining first-hand information from Native American mothers with regards to their current life conditions, child rearing and the challenges they encounter in their everyday life is an essential step in identifying their needs. The findings of this study may be suggested to legislators, politicians, and public administrators to understand the challenges faced by Native American women living off reservations. This study is useful for policy development and decision-making for the welfare of the women and their children. Non-governmental organizations concerned with improving the living standards on Native American reservations will also find this study relevant to their mission. The study will bring a positive change to the target population because it will make the American society- specifically the policy makers- to understand their challenges and how these challenges can be addressed.
Summary and Transition
In summary, the research will highlight the life and prospects for Native American girls and women, and how these reasons may lead them to leave the cultural security of the reservation. A questionnaire will be developed based the literature review exploration of Native American culture, the struggles of Native American women and if these contribute to the mother’s decision to leave the reservation. The findings of this study will help bridge the gap in the research concerning the parenting of Native American women. Chapter 2 is a literature based review of historical trauma, systems theory, acculturation theory, and the strengths perspective. The chapter also details peer reviewed journals and scholarly articles on related topics.
Parenting styles vary all over the world. There are culturally divergent philosophies on child-rearing and all of them are influenced by tradition as well as the current factors that prevail in the external environment. This chapter will explore the background of Native American women and factors that may be influential in their child-rearing practices. The chapter will anchor the research on a conceptual framework based on the theories of historical trauma, systems theory, acculturation theory, and other relevant concepts. This review of literature will attempt to give a chronicle of the lives of the Native American families to understand how the contemporary Native American woman has evolved with regards to raising her children.
This chapter will also highlight some issues of Native American women and the challenges they encounter as they raise their children outside the boundaries of the Native American reservation and in the mainstream society. A literature review was conducted using several sources of information. The literature search strategy began with EBSCO databases on the Walden Library website, which was then followed by Google Scholar. Original search terms were Native American women and minority parenting. Secondary search terms included; but are not limited to, Native Americans, culture, parenting, minorities, education, Crow Reservation of Montana, Native Americans living both on and off a Reservation, phenomenological research Some advanced searches were done with combinations of some of the primary terms, i.e. Native American parenting and history Crow reservation. The literature review revealed that there are few studies outlining the parenting styles of Native American women residing off the Reservation
Native American culture possesses positive values and traditions such as strong respect for elders, community and their beliefs regarding the sacredness of the conjugal relationship. Such values have made their society stable through their history (Wilcox & Kline, 2013). When such values are strengthened, the people remain resilient against threats to the dissolution of their dignity as an ethnic group such as high violence rates, suicide and substance abuse (Alden, Lowdermilk, Cashion, & Perry, 2014). Native American cultural bonds have been severed by the forced institutionalization of thousands of Native American children into boarding schools and indoctrination into the Caucasian culture (Turansky & Miller, 2012). Consequently, the Native American people lost their resilience, resulting in higher rates of substance abuse, violent victimization, and teenage pregnancies (Frank, 2013). There was, likewise, a high rate of suicide incidences, depression, and anxiety among the Native American Indians (Wilcox & Kline, 2013).
Native Americans have been historically traumatized due to their negative experiences of being ousted and relocated from their homeland throughout history. Unlike personal trauma, their people’s historical trauma is focused on their collective trauma as families, and this trauma has been passed on and even amplified from one generation to the next (Turansky & Miller, 2012). Collective trauma affects both the people’s collective and personal identity formation and relationship patterns in successive generations (Wilcox & Kline, 2013). For example, Frank (2013) claimed that child-rearing practices in Native American families have not evolved much. There is still prevalent neglect of children and dysfunctional families that may create a strong impact in the growth of children. These children may interpret their parents’ noninterference in their developing adolescent problems as apathy, but parents may just be perpetuating the child-rearing strategies they have been exposed to when they were much younger. Experiencing the trauma of their people is a justification for some parents in the development of dysfunction in their families (Badinter & Hunter, 2011).
Native American descendants are usually born into circumstances that are not favorable to their ideal growth and development (Druckerman, 2012). Historically, their fate was seized by the government and mandated their removal from their families, with the goal of sending them off to a much better conditions. The 1900s marked the mass migration of Native American children to boarding schools where they were to adopt the mainstream American behaviors. These children were subjected to torturous punishments, isolation, abuse, and neglect (Stange, Oyster, & Sloan, 2011). Most of them were transferred to foster care and were adopted by Caucasian families, forcing them to lose their adaptive Native American heritage and embrace a culture that was hostile to their race (Badinter & Hunter, 2011).
Turansky and Miller (2012) chronicled the saga of Native American children from the time of forced removal from their families due to the belief that the home environments on the Native American reservations were unfit for child-rearing. Native American parents and elders were deemed as negligent and abusive and unable to provide for the basic needs of their children because they were destitute themselves. Native American mothers were declared to have poor mothering and domestic skills, and the fact that there were a significant number of young, unmarried Native American mothers exacerbated the situation, validating the policy of having Native American children reared in proper boarding schools or by their adoptive Caucasian families.
The relocation of Native Americans, as mandated by the government acts, had a great impact on their self-sustainability. The industrialization of America caused the concentration of wealth in cities and off the Indian reservations, leaving the reservations in great poverty. Turansky and Miller (2012) concluded that the cumulative degenerative conditions of the Native American families, their culture, economy, and social networks represent the generations of collective, traumatic experiences of their people, leaving residual effects on the present generations. These dire experiences suffered jointly by these people have created a historical trauma that has significantly affected the Native Americans for many generations (Druckerman, 2012).
Another theory that can explain the Native American historical trauma is the systems theory. It theorizes that each member in the Native American family system plays a role that contributes to the synchronized functioning of the system (Badinter & Hunter, 2011). Each member keeps his or her role, so children who have imbibed the part in a relationship pattern will likewise form similar relationships with others who can operate within the same family system (Druckerman, 2012). Hence, if traumatic experiences altered family relationship roles, then it may also negatively influence the succeeding relationship patterns. For example, if a boy grows up being accustomed to his parents being intoxicated most of the time, and he is being left in the care of his grandparents, then he may follow the same modeled pattern when he grows up. Alcoholism is being accepted as a way of life, and parenting responsibilities are being left to the grandparents. Studies of Yoshida and Busby (2011) found that an individual’s view of his parents’ marital quality, relationship quality with each parent, and the impact of his family of origin on himself can predict his marital stability and satisfaction in life.
The systems theory, which supports the intergenerational transmission of historical trauma, likewise suggests that an individual’s perceived impact of his family of origin moderates the quality of his later relationship patterns (Seshadri & Rao, 2012). Weak parent-child relationships due to parental silence on their traumatic histories arrests bonding between parents and children and make them feel ashamed of their heritage (Becker & Shell, 2011). The children’s sense of identity, in turn, becomes negatively impacted, which consequently affects how they relate to others.
When people are uprooted from their native culture and transported into a new one, they undergo acculturation or adaptation to the new culture. Sax (2015) theorized that immigrants first assimilate the language and behaviors of the people in the host culture, and this is followed by structural assimilation. Structural assimilation involves the social and economic integration into the new culture. Finally, some immigrants get to the last stage of assimilation that makes them identify with the new culture and abandon their identification with their culture of origin. Gordon suggested that assimilation may negatively impact more first-generation adult immigrants than their children who are born into the new culture. He also enumerated the components of language, behavior, and identity as indices of acculturation. The Cultural identity of individuals caught between two cultures is measured in some ways by acculturation and ethnic identity experts (Thomas, Goff, Trevathan, & Thomas, 2013). Two components of cultural identity are self-designation as a group member of one culture and positive feelings for such identity as a group member (Feinstein, 2012).
Over time, it is likely that an acculturation gap grows between children and parents of immigrant families, with the parents holding onto their traditional culture and the children acculturating to the new culture (Seshadri & Rao, 2012). Children have less difficulty picking up the new language and learning the traditions and cultural behaviors of the people in the new culture. Consequently, their culture of origin, being less exposed to them, diminishes in terms of the effect on their growth and development, unless their parents consistently push it on them (Bond, 2012). For acculturation theory to apply to Native American families it must be taken in the context of those who were relocated from their places of origin or from the reservation they had come from and how they adjust to their new homes outside the reservation. An example is a Native American child’s interaction with adults in his new school who may not reinforce the customs and traditions that his parents have shown him.
This can lead to the cultural discontinuity when at home and in school. In extreme cases, Native American children are asked to choose between their native heritage and school success, and such dilemmas lead to disastrous effects (Feinstein, 2012). Problems like drug and alcohol abuse ensue, due to unresolved internal conflicts coming from teachers pressuring students to give up their native culture or at the least, not acknowledge it. In an attempt to reduce high dropout rates of Native American youths, it is important that teaching methods and school curricula be adjusted to mitigate cultural conflicts between home and school (Sax, 2015). This helps even the Native American mothers, who may still retain some of the values, customs, and traditions they were born into and planned to pass on to their children, even if they are already living outside the reservation, in order to preserve their cultural heritage.
In a study by Mileviciute, Trujillo, Gray, and Scott, (2013), it was found that the way people explain their state of life reflects their outlook and disposition. They concluded that the relationship between one’s negative life experiences and manifested depressive symptoms depends strongly on one’s explanatory style. More positive youths were resilient to depressive effects of their previous experiences. To overcome the negative experiences people have withstood in life, their competencies, resilience, resources, and protective factors that lead to positive developmental outcomes need stressing (Sax, 2015). The strengths perspective is a theory that purports to assist people identifying, securing, and sustaining their internal and external resources to help them achieve their goals and establish mutually enriching relationships with the community (Seshadri & Rao, 2012). Enriching relationships is achieved by strengthening the existing assets and facilitating the development of new resources to accomplish pre-established goals (McMahon, Kenyon, & Carter, 2013). With regard to Native American individuals who have suffered enough negative experiences in the past, the strengths perspective can become a tool to lift them up from their state and help them to be productive.
Native American Families
Reports from the PBS series Frank (2013) claim that Native American families are more likely to live in poverty and their children are more likely to drop out of school, have involvement in drug and alcohol abuse, have teenage pregnancies, and experience violence as compared to other cultural groups. Several of these children are supported by only one parent or are raised by their grandparents. Due to the prevalence of teenage pregnancies, the Native American families are younger, with about 34% of the population being under 18, and the median age of Native Americans is 28.7 years old. The white population’s average age is 10 years older (Druckerman, 2012). High relationship quality, measured by how stable and satisfying a couple’s relationship is, has become a protective factor for psychological well-being not only of the couple but also their children (Seshadri & Rao, 2012). On the other hand, low relationship quality may lead to negative outcomes such as high rates of substance abuse, suicide, and violence both in the general population and among the Native Americans.
Native American families value the significance of the extended family system, especially in supporting children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relations or clan members normally take part in the upbringing of the Native American children in the reservation (Badinter & Hunter, 2011). Thus, children raised in the reservation grow accustomed to such care and guardianship wherever they go. However, once family units relocate outside the reservation, they miss out on the extended family support systems of their home communities. When they encounter problems due to lack of education, training, and employment, they are forced to turn to social services agencies that may not provide the same personal care and assistance that they need.
Grandparents have been increasingly relied upon to be caregivers for their grandchildren while their adult children go away to work or as custodial caregivers if the parents have lost their custody due to neglect or substance abuse (Bond, 2012). In Native American culture, grandparents are regarded as conduits of tribal cultural values and present knowledge to the younger generation (Feinstein, 2012). Apache grandmothers, in particular, actively preserve their customs, beliefs, and traditions in their cultural history and pass it on to their grandchildren. They enjoy an elevated status as agents of cultural transmission and socialization (Bond, 2012). However, the influences of media have undermined Apache grandmothers’ passing of the torch to the younger generations. Time spent educating the young ones on Native American traditions have been replaced by watching television, listening to popular music, or being involved in social networks (Sax, 2015).
Native American Children and Youth
Russell, Crockett, and Chao (2011) recount that in most of the Native American tribes and cultures studied child-rearing methods promote the culture’s survival. Infants and toddlers are being exposed to several cultural activities in Native American life. These cultural activities are carried on by older children and adults who model the same to younger children assumed to take over these roles in the future. The continuation of the cycle greatly depends on the effective transfer of traditional heritage from the older to the younger generations, as well as the skills required to keep the tribe surviving despite the life’s challenges.
The deterioration of Native American cultures resulting from the cultural challenges brought on by Western influence has affected the child-rearing practices of parents. Dealing with the actual physical displacement from their homes on the reservations and the emerging Anglo-cultural values and clamor for material comforts, Native American parents are caught between traditional child-rearing practices believed to have developmental purposes for the children and the new lifestyle changes necessitating the satisfaction of daily needs that often conflict with the tradition (Edgerley, 2011). In some tribes, traditional tribal ways have been successfully retained, despite some severe economic changes, and child-rearing has remained relatively smooth. However, in most other tribes, changes brought about by relocation have drastically transformed the usually peaceful child-rearing ways. The few adolescents who remained on the reservation are being abandoned by parents who seek employments off the reservation. Parents come back as failures, turn to alcohol, and become indifferent to their previous roles as caregivers to their children. In such cases, adolescent development becomes adversely affected (Bond, 2012).
The rate of enrolment of Native American children has significantly increased at present with around 92% attending school. However, it does not necessarily follow that all these children graduate from high school. Although graduation rates have also improved from the past, it still does not measure up to the numbers of graduates of White Americans and Asians. Dropout rates remain high (about 3 out of every 10) for Native Americans, whether in urban areas or some reservations. O’Gorman and Oliver (2012) encouraged teachers to get to know and interact with their students and customize their curriculum to meet all the students’ needs. Teachers need to understand where each of their students come from and make the effort to study their cultural attitudes and beliefs so they can incorporate these into their curriculum. That way, the children feel that they are being valued regardless of their cultural background and become proud of their cultural heritage instead of represses it (Golding & Hughes, 2012). When cultural understanding and positive school environment is being achieved, student resiliency and achievement follows (Turansky & Miller, 2012). This implies that opportunities to participate in activities and programs encouraging one’s own cultural practices, native language, and cultural arts, to name a few, should abound in schools (O’Gorman & Oliver, 2012).
According to Chua (2011), the inconsistencies of teachers and school authorities in addressing the cultural expectations in the curriculum are worrying. Children are placed in ambivalent positions when they are asked to choose between their Native American heritage and schooling. They realize the great dilemma when they choose to propagate the practices of their heritage because this causes them to fall behind in school and eventually drop out. On the other hand, if they abandon their heritage and choose to adopt the culture of their new environment, they suffer from guilt and psychological problems because their people become offended. Being shunned by their families and tribesmen makes these people turn to drugs and alcohol abuse. Bailey (2012) also noted the same thing with Native American children adopted by white families. Their prolonged separation from their people, even with brief intermittent visits, makes them feel different and alone in their situation. They cannot claim to be either White or Native American, which translates to not belonging to any specific culture completely. They are more likely to develop psychotic depression, serious mental illness, and suicidal tendencies than their counterparts who never left the reservation (Chua, 2011).
Tribal community members were open enough to discuss the challenges and problems encountered by the Native American youths in their reservation community. One problem identified was depression, which brought about academic underachievement, substance abuse, and conduct/oppositional behavior. Another was hopelessness manifested by sadness, apathy, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem, and low initiative (Mileviciute et al., 2013). In another study, the Native American youth in the Northern Plains reservation generally reflected a positive disposition about their personal lives and identified more strength despite the challenges they face in their communities (McMahon et al., 2013). The positive disposition was quite surprising, considering their lives of adverse circumstances. Findings of the study showed that these youths were embedded with a variety of adaptive developmental assets to cope with their dire situation and helped them develop resiliency (McMahon et al., 2013).
The concern of tribal leaders of Native American communities with child development being a key to tribal survival has moved them to action. They advocate parents to be more active in their children’s education. One tribe has started the tradition of giving recognition rewards for academic success as well as the provision of travel experiences to motivate the children to study better. In tribes where arts and crafts are specializations, programs to engage younger children in Native American arts and craft are offered to nurture their artistic talents. Providing such opportunities to small children somehow cushions them from the difficulties of adolescent growth and development (Turansky & Miller, 2012).
Native American Women
Flake (2015) argue that traditionally, Native American women’s identity and role as caretakers and culture bearers were all based on the principles of spirituality, extended family, and tribe. Because of their association with food and its supply, the women gained power and status, and it increased with age and wisdom. Native women are revered for their views on sacred matters, herbal medicines, and tribal history. However, in contemporary times, such heightened reverence for women has immensely decreased. The Native American woman has earned the reputation of being inadequate mothers. The unmarried Indian mother was usually convinced to give up her child for adoption. In a context of being given a choice, and the consideration of the possibility that the baby will have a better life with another family, the mother agrees. The child will be with parents who have the resources to provide for him or her (Huston & Howard, 2011). The Indian Adoption Project (IAP) was considered successful in recruiting unmarried Indian mothers to relinquish their unborn babies for adoption. The maternity homes provided increased social services, such as allowing them to live in maternity homes while awaiting the birth of the children, instead of staying on in the reservation (Turansky & Miller, 2012).
Native American women are more likely to suffer violent crimes, as domestic violence and abuse are very rampant in their culture. In a study by O’Gorman and Oliver (2012), the Native American women participants all reported to being exposed to several social problems while growing up in the reservation. It is because of such exposure that they become desensitized to a variety of attitudes, situations, and issues that would be considered by non-Native girls in mainstream society to be insurmountable issues. Their early exposure to alcohol abuse, child abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse, legal disputes of parents and relatives, and teenage pregnancies made them immune and desensitized so that these are not considered deviant behaviors anymore. It is not different in schools. There, they enter a world of people whose values may be different from theirs. They encounter uncaring teachers, low expectations of their skills and knowledge, insensitivity, and abuse. The low expectations of their skills conflicts with high expectations of handling adult responsibilities inappropriate for them because they are far beyond their chronological years (Flake, 2015).
Native American minority groups in the country have the highest birth rate compared to other ethnic groups. Most of them live in poverty at a much higher rate than their Caucasian counterparts. It is worse for women because they are being discriminated against in the workplaces. Native American women get jobs, if at all, that pay very low because the majority of them do not possess the skills and education for higher paying jobs. To illustrate, for each 59 cents the average Caucasian women earn Native American women earn 17 cents for the same job. Findings show that Native American women had the lowest percentage of employment in the workforce with only 35% of them employed. Add to that, 25% of Native American families have single mothers as heads of households (Chua, 2011).
A pilot programs spearheaded by mental health consultants have been developed to support the Native American teen mothers. Pregnant adolescents remain in school during their pregnancies and earn credits when they take courses in child and personality development associated with practicum experience in a specified preschool or day care center (Bailey, 2012). There, they learn to care for infants and young children hands-on and avoid the adverse effects of inadequate nurturance such as infants suffering from developmental problems. They also learn to relate to babies and children and gain experiences in caring for them. They learn how to stimulate them by holding, playing, entertaining, talking to them, and observing their behaviors in various settings. Even after these adolescents give birth, they continue with their education with their babies. Lessons available for them include dealing with motherhood, relationships, and relating to adults. Sometimes, their boyfriends, often their children’s fathers, attend sessions with them to bond and learn more about parenting (Golding & Hughes, 2012).
In recognition of the pathetic state of Native American women, President Bush in January 2006 mandated the Violence against Women Act with special provisions for such indigenous women. Under this act, Native American women are protected from assault by prosecution of anyone who commits such violence against them in the federal court. Serial sex offenders in tribal nations shall be tracked and entered in Indian Country sex offender registries. The act aims to prevent domestic abuse against women and create victim support with new grant programs. The Act also calls for funding for a baseline study of domestic abuse to get to the core of the problem and address it, so domestic abuse shows significant, reduction if not eradication (Ritzer, 2011).
Being people of color, Native Americans are usually subject to racial discrimination. Their racial reputation precedes them, and they are being adjudged accordingly, and it follows they are treated based on such reputation (Banados, 2011). Some stereotypical labels given to Native Americans are drunken Indians, the Squaw, and the Indian princess (Schiffer, 2014). The drunken Native American stereotype stems from the time when Native communities traded with colonists, but due to their inexperience with alcohol, they easily got inebriated to the point that they couldn’t function normally. This stereotype portrayed Native Americans as naturally inferior, lacking self-respect, dignity, self-control, and morality (Schiffer, 2014). A drunken Native American Indian woman, on the other hand, is seen as dirty and negligent of her family in favor of alcohol. Another stereotype of a Native American woman is the squaw, which means she is primitive, ugly, and lacks grace. She is an unattractive and haggard, subservient and abused tribal female who is considered the tribe’s prostitute or a harlot, perceived to be of very low moral character (Bond, 2012). She is the opposite of the Native American Indian princess, another stereotype of Native American women, drawn from the character of Pocahontas, made popular by the Disney movie of the same title. This stereotype is portraying her as the noble savage, who collaborates with White men to subdue her people (Lajimodiere, 2013). Although it seems that the stereotype for the Indian princess is positive, it is a euphemism to demean the successes of Native American women. These stereotypes spring from a white colonist viewpoint rather than from the first-hand experiences of Native American women.
Native American Culture in Child Rearing
The comparison of value orientations of modern Anglo-American values and traditional Native American values differ much on their relationship with nature, tradition and group practices, family relations, thinking, and communication inclinations. Huston and Howard (2011) recount how very personal as well as communal raising a Native American child is within a tribal unit. When an Indigenous woman discovered she was carrying a child, she would actively engage in song and conversation with the unborn child. This bonding ensured that the infant knew it was welcome and planted early seeds of respect and love. This new life was viewed as being eager to learn, a willing seeker of traits that would guide understanding of the self and others (Joe & Gachupin, 2012).
Each child is traditionally believed to have what it takes to grow into a worthwhile person. The whole tribe expects a child to manifest good behavior, and this becomes the child’s motivation to be good and to feel connected to the tribe (Bailey, 2012). As suggested by the attachment and family systems theories, children’s warm reception by their family and establishment of positive relationships are crucial to their development. Their identification with the tribe takes precedence over their individuality (Golding & Hughes, 2012). Raising the child with indigenous practices is a cooperative communal effort including the child’s grandparents, great-aunts, and uncles, younger aunts and uncles, and even adopted relatives. Children have a very special place in the society, and they are considered gifts from the Creator. The parents and caregivers are tasked to nurture the children and implant in them seeds of honor and respect. Respect is reinforced by honoring them through ceremonies, giving them worthwhile and meaningful names, or recognizing them in special events such as in honorary dinners, dances, or giveaways (Gentry & Fugate, 2012). Giveaways entail giving children special items to honor them and their good deeds. Many times, a caregiver would remove personal items of clothing, jewelry, or other possessions to give to a child while commenting,
The way parents and relatives speak about the child, often within his hearing range, affects how they behave, so positive language is used to enhance their self-esteem. Seeds of desired traits a parent implants in the child should be nurtured well by repeatedly acknowledging such traits when they manifest. When the child grows into adulthood, the traits will stay on with him and guide him to live a peaceful life (Turansky & Miller, 2012). Appropriate behavior is encouraged when parents. Even very simple efforts of children to help out are honored by the people around them and partake in tending the good seed. It also serves as cues to behave accordingly (Gentry & Fugate, 2012).
Disciplining Native American children is practiced in direct and indirect forms. One form of discipline believed to teach children of the consequences of their actions is noninterference or letting things happen the way they are meant to happen (Reiter, 2011). This concept does not imply inaction in the face of potential grave harm but allows a person to have a choice. For example, if a child refuses to eat, then the logical consequence is for him to be hungry. The parent allows it because the child has made a choice that leads to him eventually learning something. Ritzer (2011) differentiates noninterference from ignoring. When a child continues to misbehave, he is ignored or removed from the environment that used to enforce desirable responses from him, so he feels deprived of such positive conditions. When he continues with his inappropriate behavior, he becomes an outcast by the community. Others consider a deliberate disobedience to the rules and expectations that were made clear from the beginning. His punishment matches the gravity of his misdemeanor. Often, chastisement becomes the duty of an uncle or elder instead of the parent for the parent-child bond to be kept intact and avoid straining their relationship (Joe & Gachupin, 2012). Children are not considered bad because of their misdemeanors. Parents and community members prefer to see it as a lack of understanding on the part of the child. Hence, he or she needs to be given guidance according to what is right. He is made to understand that his actions affect the people around him whether they are positive or negative. Hence, more desirable behaviors are encouraged. Discipline, in indigenous beliefs, is associated more with the instilling of self-control and following rules rather than the imposition of punishment when a child strays from the righteous path (Hearst, 2012).
Life on the reservation is typically hard and impoverished. Frank (2013) reports that Native Americans experience twelve times the U.S. national rate of malnutrition, nine times the rate of alcoholism, and seven times the rate of infant mortality; as of the early 1990s, the life expectancy of reservation-based men was just over forty-four years, with reservation-based women enjoying, on average, a life expectancy of just under forty-seven years. Such dire conditions are echoed in the literature, with Banados (2011) reporting that while the national poverty rate is about 10% for Caucasian families, poverty rate for Native American families on the reservation is about thrice that rate. Unemployment rates have reached 50% or higher (Banados, 2011). The economic deprivation brought about by poverty results in low educational attainment, substance use, incarceration, child abuse, teen pregnancy, school dropout (Mileviciute et al., 2013). However, to counter such adverse effects, Native American communities make use of their traditional cultural values and practices to offer their youth the resources they need to develop optimally despite their dire circumstances (Hearst, 2012).
Reservation schools usually integrate culture-centric practices in their curriculum as opposed to dominant culture, while schools outside the reservation are less likely to include strong cultural contexts in their lessons (Gentry & Fugate, 2012). One example is the mandate given by the Navajo Sovereignty in Education Act of 2005 to its Navajo tribe schools. This mandate expects schools to incorporate its native language, culture, history, government, and character in the curriculum (Badinter & Hunter, 2011). The schools believe that, in doing so, they contribute to the preservation of the Navajo language and endurance of culture for the benefit of the future generations of the Navajo people (Navajo Nation Department of Education, 2011). Thus, people from the tribe should be welcome to offer their support and contribution to the school to enhance children’s knowledge of their culture.
Life off the Reservation
Relocating from the reservation into urban areas has overwhelmed Native Americans, as this is the first exposure to life outside the reservation. For most of those who relocate, they were not prepared for the urban trappings of technology and progress. It was exciting to find out about these. However, some who preferred to stay on the reservation warned those who went out about the deterioration of their Native American culture if they become too impressed with non-Native lifestyle. Miller (2013) explained that instead of dismissing their traditional Indian values as a hindrance to their success in modern America, some native relocates appealed to tradition being their source of strength. Former Bureau of Indian Affairs field agent and military policeman, Benjamin Reifel encouraged his Native American constituents to be hopeful and advocated for a change of attitude in creating the necessary cultural adaptation in order to function within the economic and social systems of the mainstream society (Miller, 2013). Still, the difficulty in finding a job, urban congestion, language barriers, and geographic isolation are strongly felt despite their enthusiasm for their new environment and the encouragement to be brave. Many returned to the reservation, but several also achieved varying degrees of success in their relocated homes (Miller, 2013).
Native American Parenting
In analyzing parent-child relationships in Native American families, especially the mothers raising their children single-handedly, it is worthy to look into attachment theories. Hearst (2012) explains that an individual’s experiences and significant relationships in the earliest stages of life are responsible for their survival functions as they grow and develop throughout the lifespan. Frank (2013) identified four kinds of attachment styles, namely secure, avoidant, ambivalent/anxious, and disorganized. Those who have formed secure attachments have no difficulty establishing close relationships with others. They form healthy, happy, and trusting personal relationships without any fear of being too dependent on them or being abandoned. These positive relationships are due to having grownups nurturing the young ones, with early attachments having all three components of closeness, care, and commitment. In contrast, some people establish negative, avoidant behaviors towards the persons with whom they have relationships (Gentry & Fugate, 2012).
Their avoidant attachments, formed early in life, made them reluctant to open up emotionally because they feel uncomfortable getting close to other persons. For these individuals, their independence and self-sufficiency should be maintained because when they were younger, they had been exposed to cold, unattached caregivers who did not provide them with the love and security they craved. Hence, they learned to fend for themselves. People who have formed ambivalent attachments are inconsistent in relating to others as they had grown up in an environment where their caregiver had also been inconsistent in giving them love and affection and have developed insecurities due to this. The same goes for those who formed disorganized attachments. As young children, they were exposed to caregivers who were not organized and had passed this trait on to the children. They usually engage in unhealthy relationships and develop dysfunctional behaviors (Huston & Howard, 2011).
Reiter (2011) points out that distressed Native American mothers, mostly still adolescents, may lash out at their babies because they are not ready to handle the demands of an infant. They become irrational, angry and hurt their children to stop them from crying or simply abandon and neglect these children (Badinter & Hunter, 2011). In turn, the infants and children are left poorly cared for, and healthy attachments are not formed. It makes it difficult for them to trust anyone or develop the confidence they need to ensure their well-being. The resulting developmental delays cause such a child to be deficient both in curiosity and in the physical ability necessary to explore and become an avid learner. The anger, hostility, depression, and isolation that may develop instead tend to destine the youngster never to learn to trust others or make sustaining relationships (Badinter & Hunter, 2011). Other outcomes of poor or abusive parent-child relationships, coercive parenting, and caretaker rejection are suicidal, and inability of children to become good parents themselves as adults (Flake, 2015). On the other hand, strong parent-child relationships prevent adolescents’ delinquent behaviors and its related problems among the Native American families. Such impacts of parent-child relationship on a child’s future relational well-being support the systems theory of intergenerational transmission of relational patterns.
In terms of academic performance, Gentry and Fugate (2012) contend that when parents and families have involvement in their children’s schooling, children improve in their behavior, motivation, and academic achievement no matter what socioeconomic background they have (Joe & Gachupin, 2012). Successful parental involvement included: Parenting (assisting parents in creating supporting home environments that foster student success); Communicating (keeping open lines of communication between school and home); Volunteering (recruiting parents to become involved in school and classroom programs); Learning at home (informing parents of effective practices in helping students with homework and other curricular activities); Decision making (engaging parents as advocates for both student and school success); and Collaborating with the community (providing parents with access to community resources.
Tyers and Beach (2012) found from their focus group interviews that Native American parents identified two types of school involvement, namely, school-oriented participation and home-oriented involvement. The school-oriented involvement included parents being active in communication with teachers and other school personnel, actively attending school events, volunteering their time in school and advocating for their children. Home-oriented involvement, on the other hand, referred to helping their children with school work, showing interest in their children’s educational concerns, encouraging their children to do their best in their studies, and enjoining other members of the family and community members in the educational processes of their children. Some parents complained about certain barriers in their involvement such as not feeling welcome in their children’s school, their own negative experiences in their school history, observations of the school’s nonchalance about their involvement, gaps in cultural sensitivity, and barriers in language and communication. Other parents identified their own limitations in being more involved in their children’s school such as financial constraints, lack of child care for those left at home, lack of resources and facilities to do work for the school, and transportation problems in going to school (Frank, 2013). Joe and Gachupin (2012) emphasized the value of collaboration between the home, school, and the community, as it is bound to result in the best outcomes for children.
Native American parenting has been mostly affected by historical trauma, and to prevent further effect on younger generation, some parenting interventions have been designed, taking into account the cultural and environmental context of Native American families living in more contemporary times. Schatz and Klein (2015), for example, developed psycho-educational interventions for parents to manage the damage associated with historical trauma. The intervention exposed them to traumatic memories and cognitive integration in light of the tribe’s culturally accepted parenting practices to make them aware of the impacts of historical trauma on their parenting skills. The intervention provides opportunities for the parents to reconnect with their tribal culture and values, strengthens their kinship to their extended networks and empowers them as parents to know what to avoid with their children that they know will create much damage (Gentry & Fugate, 2012).
Tyers and Beach (2012) created an evidence-based parenting program called The Incredible Years specifically designed to incorporate traditional Native American beliefs and values as well as discussion of historical trauma and current injustices experienced in contemporary society. Significant improvements in parenting and child behavior are manifested as compared to a control group, proving that parenting interventions that are developed against the backdrop of historical trauma and a healing framework are effective. Another parenting intervention is the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) developed by Sheila Eyberg, Ph.D. She created this program for families with very young children who have disruptive behavior disorders. The program fused two prominent child therapy models at the time namely, traditional play therapy, which focused on the child’s behavior and free expression of emotions in a safe environment, and child behavior therapy, which focused on the parent with the role of change agent based on social learning theories (Huston & Howard, 2011). This model aims to foster strong bonds between parents and their children and to build up parenting skills on setting limits and providing structures in reversing negative behavioral patterns.
Joe and Gachupin (2012) belief of the need to go back to consulting the old wisdom in the raising of children as the center of the circle is consistent with the PCIT’s principles of honoring children and the structure of making of relatives, which are Native American values. Essential to the Native American tribes is the circle theory which includes old wisdom about relationships, care for the environment, affirmations, identity, and inclusion. These principles have been applied to past generations, but were interrupted when the social composition of the indigenous people was threatened and almost shattered (Huston & Howard, 2011). PCIT has been found to be compatible with the traditional Native American parenting practices. It incorporates approaches from social learning theory, family system theory, and play therapy techniques that are all acceptable theories that natives already practice. Both the Incredible Years and PCIT focus on behaviors and relationships, and acknowledge children’s developmental levels with minimal cultural bias (Joe & Gachupin, 2012). PCIT teaches parents to be keen observers of their children as well as become good role models for them. This technique parallels the teachings of Albert Bandura, who claimed that people acquire behaviors through observation and, subsequently, imitation of what they have observed. The same principle was practiced by the Native Americans who taught children to watch and listen because it is by doing so that they get to learn new concepts (Reiter, 2011).
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, combined with motivational interventions, is well-suited for families devastated by substance abuse, which many Native American families are. Parents who have substance abuse issues are usually guilty of child physical abuse and neglect, disrupting their family’s peace, harmony, and stability (Gentry & Fugate, 2012). Native American principle of honoring children is relevant to the foundations of PCIT, especially when it applies similar principles from the circle theory and old wisdom. The Parent Training Manual of PCIT was incorporated with traditional Native American cultural beliefs and concepts in parenting to create a program to enhance the intervention for Native American families (Huston & Howard, 2011). Turansky and Miller (2012) reported the responses of parents to a community-based, culturally grounded mental health intervention for Native American youths. The intervention, called Our Life, was run once a week for 6 months, and it promoted the mental health of young people and reduced violent tendencies by involving parents as well as youths aged 7-17 years. The youth participate in four kinds of activities: Recognizing and healing historical trauma; Reconnecting to traditional culture and language; Learning and sharing culturally appropriate parenting practices and social skills for youth; and Building relationships between parents and youths through equine-assisted and other experiential activities (Joe & Gachupin, 2012).
Most parents welcomed the idea of exposing their children to their traditional culture and expressed their desire to raise their children based on its values. Many admitted their lack of knowledge of some traditional parenting philosophy and practices, having embraced the modern culture and wanting reacquaince with their roots. Parents reported better parenting habits as learned from the program. Some claimed they had increased their warmth and encouragement for their children, so they developed better self-esteem (Huston & Howard, 2011). Their discipline techniques have also become more positive instead of negative and rules are being better explained as well as the consequences of their actions are discussed to teach them life lessons. Less effective parenting practices were also reported to have decreased significantly such as the constant use of punishment, not involving the children in decision making, or being overly permissive with them. They also shared that there is an increase of their knowledge of resources that support them in their parenting such as some government agencies, other parents who provide helpful information, and even articles read from the Internet that provide them with guidelines on better parenting (Huston & Howard, 2011).
Anger management is addressed in the intervention and parents reported an increased ability to manage their anger. Communication between parents and children has improved. After the intervention, the parents found themselves with increased contact with their children and more frequent shared dinners, family meetings, and bonding experiences occurred. Apart from the improvement of parent-child relationships, the parents observed overall positive outcomes for their children’s behavior and well-being. School performance improved, and there was a significant reduction in delinquent behavior. The intervention resulted in commendable outcomes and was responsible in bringing the families involved in the program closer together (Gentry & Fugate, 2012). The interventions discussed recommend for environments that cater for troubled Native American families especially those headed by women in single-parent households raising their children off the reservations.
The Crow Indians of Montana
This study shall focus on the tribe of Crow Indians from the Northern Plains of Montana, as the women to be interviewed are from that tribe. This section now focuses on the history and lifestyle of the Crow Tribe in Montana. The Crow Indians of Montana accepted the cessation of their land in 1868. Although they were a peaceful people when they were ousted from their land at that time, within fifty years, they had representatives lobbying in Congress to save their last remaining property (Bond, 2012). The Crows persisted to keep their culture, as exhibited by anthropologist Fred Voget, author of The Shoshoni-Crow Sun Dance and other cultural articles, including one on the description of the Crow people’s personality types (Gross, 2013). Like most Native American tribes, the Crows are family-oriented. Members can rely on traditional clans and kin for support and protection of the orphaned children, poor parents, or disabled elderly members. This kind of close-knit value system amazed George W. Frost, who, when he was the superintendent of the Crow Reservation in 1877, observed a prevalence of marital infidelity. Polygamy was common and socially accepted, with the men taking as many wives as they could support, as adultery was not considered a crime. However, statistics reflect that Crows valued marriage. It is reported that 20% of Crows had four, five or more wives and, for each marriage, it was a long-term union (Huston & Howard, 2011).
Native American families have gone through much pain in the history of their people. This chapter discussed the events that caused the deterioration of the once-solid family structures that embraced traditional values and communal child-rearing of tribal units. Apart from the forced separation of children from their parents to be sent off to boarding schools or adopted by White families, migration outside of reservations of families seeking better opportunities have further contributed to the decline of traditional Native American culture, values, and practices. These have once been woven into fabric of integrity of the Native American people. Marred by hopelessness, Native American families who have been denied opportunities outside the reservation have resorted to alcoholism, substance abuse, and other negative factors. These have greatly impacted the parenting capabilities of Native Americans, especially the mothers who raise their children on their own. Historical trauma has left deep scars that have been passed on from generation to generation. Children imbibe them through family systems, exposing them to the negative outcomes of the traumatic experiences of their ancestors. Without proper guidance, these children may adopt some practices that they see which may have negative impact on their lives. As shown in this review, a common case is the abuse of alcohol, drugs, and cigarette. When they see adults indulge themselves in drugs and alcohol, they tend to believe that such practices are normal.
The Strengths Perspective Theory gives much hope that Native American families can rise from the ashes of their devastating experiences to achieve their goals and become resourceful members of society, whether they live on the reservations or have relocated outside. Mothers can find strength in their heritage of old wisdom in strong parenting values passed down from their Native American elders if they only become open to it. The parenting interventions presented show evidence that such strengths can surface and serve them well. Due to the dearth of research on the perspectives of Native American women raising their children outside the reservation, this study will endeavor to conduct interviews to explore the psychological health and what the state of their relationship with their children is. Each person has a story to tell, and this study hopes to collect a wide variety of stories of such women. The theoretical framework that this study will build on shall guide the researcher in understanding various concepts related to child-rearing among the African American mothers. After listening to Native American women’s perspectives, information about their individual and common problems, parenting approaches, dilemmas, and hopes and dreams for their children and themselves are going to be unearthed. Such information shall be shared in this study as well as the possible action that can be done to address their issues and concerns. Chapter 3 is a discussion of the methodology and results based on the phenomenological study. There is also discussion of research design and data collection.
This chapter focuses on the method that will be used in the collection, analysis, and presentation of data in order to make recommendations on this topic based on the information that will be gathered. The researcher will discuss the lived experiences of Native American mothers who are living off the reservations. The researcher will explore their current living conditions, quality of living, and their parenting experiences in raising their children. The following questions shall guide the research:
- What does it mean for a Native American woman to grow up on the Native American Indian reservation?
- What experiences have led Native American women who grew up on the reservations to choose to raise their children off the reservations?
- What challenges do women who grew up on the reservations face when they try to raise their children off the reservations?
- What may be the reasons for Native American women who grew up on the reservations to raise their children off the reservation?
According to Denzin and Lincoln (2011), qualitative researchers believe people create and share a similar understanding of various situations. The use of narratives, case studies, observations, and interviews to gather information enables them to elicit personal views of participants and interpret the data they have collected in an attempt to move towards change or reformations or just to bring about a better understanding of a phenomenon (Cresswell, 2013). In this study, research methods grounded in interpretive epistemological assumptions will be employed to understand the phenomenon of Native American women who chose to live off the reservations and how they raise their children. Since the topic of this study is ‘lived experiences’ of Native American women, a very suitable method for this question is the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).
This study will utilize the phenomenological approach to gain a clearer perspective of what they go through in certain situations (Gilbert, Knutson, & Gilbert, 2012). It is essential for a social researcher to create knowledge through understanding the world with the eyes of the participants (Eriksson & Kovalainen, 2015). Thus, phenomenology points to “An interest in the nature of human experience and the meaning that people attach to their experiences with the assumption that the important reality is what people perceive it to be” (Bryman, 2012, p. 45). Similarly, Cresswell (2013, p. 41) earlier observed that “The sociology of knowledge must first of all concern itself with what people ‘know’ as ‘reality’ in their everyday non-or pre-theoretical lives.” It, therefore, means that whatever information the researcher can obtain from in-depth semi-structured interviews with participants can be thoroughly analyzed with reflective interpretative analysis. The interpretive research allows the individual to shape reality using its interpretations, meanings, and understanding (Druckerman, 2012). For this analysis, emphasis will be placed on the active involvement of people, in reality, construction of common practices of Native American women in their child-rearing practices outside the reservation. Also, secondary literature will be valuable in substantiating the findings.
In choosing IPA as a research method, the researcher is ready to delve into the world of the participants to better understand their situations. The researcher is aware that during the interviews, it is important to take note of non-verbal communication they may convey and read between the lines. To ensure that what the respondents say is understood, it may be necessary to read and re-read the transcripts of the interviews as well as listen to the audio recordings to capture the full messages they want to impart. The IPA process involves noting observations of the interview by writing down some descriptive, linguistic and conceptual comments.
Descriptive comments describe the content of the participant’s verbalizations. Linguistic comments concentrate on the specific language use of the participant, and conceptual comments focus on a more interrogative and conceptual level (Parker, 2011). Then the development of emergent themes comes that may prevail in the interview. Statements related to certain themes may be organized together for further analysis, and then connections may be found in the themes identified (Katsirikou & Skiadas, 2012). The literature will then be consulted to see if there are some explanations to such connections.
Data Collection Methods
For this study, the qualitative methods of Qualitative Content Analysis of the literature and in-depth interviews will be the most suitable research methods for the research topic.
Qualitative content analysis
A comprehensive review of literature is essential in any study because existing theories or practices, as well as the experience or knowledge of experts and previous research, provide a good foundation as well as an abundance of related constructs to the main topic of study (Cresswell, 2013). In reviewing the literature, a competent researcher analyzes the content together with the data he wishes to pursue. Content analysis is “A research technique for making replicable and valid inferences from texts or other meaningful matter to the contexts of their use” (Salter & Mutlu, 2014, p. 21). It aims to provide knowledge, new insights, a representation of facts and a practical guide to action (Nia, 2013).
The difference between qualitative content analysis and quantitative research methods is the presentation of the study of the problem or topic. If quantitative research poses hypotheses, qualitative research poses open questions that guide the research and influence the gathering of data (Scheurich, 2014). The qualitative data is analyzed, so concepts and patterns are identified which are important to consider and make a report. After reviewing the literatures, the researcher will determine if there is a lack of pertinent, first-hand information about the current topic to justify the need for this study that is currently being conducted. Previous researchers have yielded helpful and relevant information regarding Native American women and their common background growing up on Native American reservations, and such information shall be used to analyze the qualitative data gathered during the interviews.
Using interviews as a data-gathering method enables the participants to discuss their interpretations of a concept as well as provide them with the chance to express their opinions regarding the concept. They make it possible to convey the respondents’ personal feelings, opinions, experiences and interpretations of given situations (Mouhammed, 2015). Other qualitative methods such as observation or questionnaires may not provide Information as thorough as that taken from in-depth interviews. Like questionnaires, interviews directly provoke a response by asking specific questions to participants. Scheurich (2014) draws attention to the three different styles of the interview; fully structured; semi-structured and unstructured. In a fully structured interview, the interviewer has predetermined questions and uses them in a pre-set order. The semi-structured interview uses predetermined questions where the order can be modified or adapted as necessary. In an unstructured interview, the interviewer has a general area of interest, yet allows the conversation to develop freely. The unstructured interview is the style that the researcher will use in this study.
Sensitive and responsible questioning on the part of interviewers can enhance the response rates of the participants (Brandimarte, 2013). In interviews, the response rate of participants is higher than in questionnaires because they are more involved in the process. It is a flexible tool that adapts to the situation and responses of the participants and being able to follow immediately upon their answers is one advantage that this method has over others (Bryman, 2012). A major disadvantage in any interview situation is the possibility of bias. The interviewer may unwittingly divulge his opinion or expectations by the tone of his voice, or in the way he asks questions. Even when recording the interview, it is important to remain aware of bias having an effect on how answers are understood and transcribed. However, these methods are a quick way to assess the participant’s sincerity. Honesty will be emphasized in this study. Additionally theoretical orientation may bias questions and interpretation of answers.
Research Design and Rationale
Participants of the Study
In this study, the researcher will interview Native American mothers who reside outside Native American Indian reservations but possess enrollment in the federally recognized Crow Tribe of Montana. The criteria for the selection of the participants are as follows:
- They should be Native American women with an upbringing on Indian reservations.
- They should have current enrolment in the federally recognized Crow Tribe of Montana.
- They should have decided to leave the reservations and reside off it.
- They should be raising their child/children off the reservations single-handedly, with a spouse/partner or with a member of their family.
Finding women with the specific criteria required may be a challenge for the researcher unless places frequented by such women or at best are visited, or find a community where there are several identified women as described in the criteria. The researcher will seek help from people in the local university. Posting an announcement about the need for such participants around the university campus would be a good start. The announcement shall call on anyone who knows Native American mothers who reside outside the reservations to refer her to the researcher to be participants in this dissertation study. The notice will contain the researcher’s contact details.
Apart from the university, the researcher can approach agencies known for supporting Native Americans and ask for referrals for participants. Once the first or second prospective participant is found, it is likely that referral to others will be given, especially those known by the first two participants. Another option is using social media such as Facebook to recruit the participants, as in that platform, news and information spread easily to a wide network in a short period. It is important to inform the social network community that the researcher needs their help in disseminating such information until the actual participants get hold of the notice. The researcher aims for six to ten participants for this study. The rationale for choosing this small number was informed by the difficulty in identifying the specific people who qualify to take part in this study, and the short time that was available for the research.
Estimated duration of the interview is an hour or two depending on the openness and willingness of the participants to engage in a conversation about their lives as Native American women who chose to live outside the reservation and raise their children away from it. As a researcher, it is important to be aware that there are factors that may contribute to the unreliability of the data from the interviews hence its necessary to try to reduce them in the best way possible. One is researcher bias on the part of the participants. Participants may make an effort and cooperate just to please the researcher even if what they share may not be true. Assurance that no judgment shall pass related to what they share is given to the participants in the hopes to encourage honesty and sincerity. An additional factor may be a participant error, which may result from exhaustion due to the thoroughness of the interview process (Druckerman, 2012). I will make it a point to have reasonable breaks during the interview if I observe any symptoms of tiredness on the part of the participants.
The researcher will conduct interviews in an agreed venue that is neutral territory for the participants. Druckerman (2012) strongly suggests that an interview should be conducted in a setting that the interviewees are comfortable with to make them relaxed when giving responses. It should be conducive to the participants to share their insights openly without any threat to their safety and security. Possible venues are a coffee shop, chapel or park. Schedule of interview sessions shall be at the convenience of the participants.
The procedure that will be used in this study will be based on the recommendations given by Cresswell (2013) about data collection approach. The researcher will contact the participants individually to explain what the study is all about – its objectives, significance and negotiate the details of the interview schedule. The researcher will conduct the interview guided by the prepared questions, remaining open to the direction of the discussion as the participants may choose to spend more time on some questions or bring up related topics to the discussion. The whole interview shall be audio-recorded with the permission of the interviewee. To avoid the participants being self-conscious, thus affecting their candidness and spontaneity, there shall be no use of video recording. The recordings shall be transcribed in verbatim for further analysis after the interview.
Confidentiality of the participants’ identity shall also be ensured to gain trust of the participants and to make them feel more confident in sharing their personal experiences and insights. The researcher may consider giving a token of appreciation to each participant at the end of the interview, especially if it is the only way of having them participate in the study. It is for their time and effort in helping inform this study. It is best that they are not informed beforehand of the token so that they remain candid and free from any expectations of rewards that could affect their participation. An example is an agreement to participate only for the sake of the reward that comes after and not necessarily to provide quality and honest answers that would contribute to the validity and worthiness of the data gathered.
Data Collection Instruments
The only instruments this study will use are the research materials used in the literature review and the guide questions for the semi-structured interviews. These questions are as follows:
- What does it mean for a Native American woman like you to grow up on the Native American Indian reservation?
- What experiences have led you as a Native American woman who grew up on the reservations to choose to raise your child/children off the reservations?
- What challenges do you face as a woman who grew up in the reservations and is now raising your child/ children off the reservations?
- What are the reasons for your decision to raise your child/children off the reservations?
- How do you evaluate your life with your children now that you are living off the reservations?
- Do you have anything else to share with us regards to your situation?
Validity of the Data
The validity of the data gathered will largely depend on the integrity of the participants’ responses, and its close parallelism to the research literature. Ensuring qualitative validity is quite different from quantitative research. In quantitative studies, the hypotheses presented at the beginning of the study guides the researcher in determining the construct validity of the data derived from the research process as well as the appropriate methodology to be used (Little, 2013). The construct validity is expected to interplay with the data as applied from the test or research process manipulating the identified variables. The data derived may support or reject the hypotheses. It also depends on how they integrate their issues and concerns to the research topic (Palys & Atchison, 2014). The participants’ perspectives provide a vivid picture to the researcher because the participants are considered experts on their life experiences.
Gusti (2011) provides a more formal definition of validity that will be useful in this study. It is the coherence of knowledge gained from the primary data given by the interviewees along with the practical knowledge of how one acts in particular situations and contexts. In this study, internal validity shall be ensured by checking the representativeness of the sample. The researcher will ensure that the sample that will be used shall capture the diversity of the study population. External validity will be ensured through triangulation as suggested by Cresswell (2013) who says that a researcher should use more than one technique in collecting data.
Trustworthiness supports the argument that the research findings are worthy of attention (Katsirikou & Skiadas, 2012). For research to be trustworthy, it should have credibility, transferability, dependability, and reliability. Credibility refers to the authenticity of the participant and the information he or she provides. It should reflect the truth so that the conceptual interpretation of the data supplied is reliable. Transferability is the applicability of the findings to other situations, other than the topic of the study. Dependability refers to the quality of the integrated processes of data collection, analysis and the establishment of new theories. Finally, reliability shows how well the research findings can be trusted to tell the truth (Khan, 2011).
Analysis of Data
In analyzing the data derived, the interview transcripts should be examined thoroughly for patterns of behavior or other pertinent information and should be appropriately categorized in thematic codes (Little, 2014). Inductive analysis, Mcdougal (2012, p. 81) explains, means that “The patterns, themes, and categories of analysis come from the data; they emerge out of the data rather than being imposed on them prior to data collection and analysis.” Bowen’s analysis of data supports Patton’s interpretation of data analysis and also, studies and patterns that emerged from the analysis and made logical associations with the interview questions. She explains the process of deriving her research findings as follows: “At successive stages, themes moved from a low level of abstraction to become major, overarching themes rooted in the concrete evidence provided by the data. These emerging themes- together with a substantive formal theory of ‘development- focused collaboration’ became the major findings of my study” (Mao & Chen, 2011, p. 31).
The same method of data analysis will be employed in this research. For each interview transcript, analysis of the text and identifying themes shall be carried out along with the list of themes that emerged from all the interviews as well as highlighting the lines or quotes from the participants that reflected the themes on a color-coded basis (one theme per color). Organizing the thematic responses in a table will show clustered themes under identifying headings and transcript quotes contained. The theme grouping will be clusters of concepts based on shared meanings. Original transcripts are checked and re-checked in search of similarities and differences to ensure that the themes will reflect in the data derived. The last stage in the organization of data is grouping the clustered themes of each participant into its corresponding master theme. Again, the process of thorough checking is done with the transcripts to ensure that relevant participants’ quotes are in the correct themes (Kalmbach & Carr, 2012). Data gathered shall be compared to the theoretical framework designed in the literature review to supplement the data analysis. The researcher shall confirm if the theories of Historical Trauma, Systems Theory, Acculturation Theory, and Strengths Perspective apply to the lives of the participants. It may also be possible that a new theory can be established based on the common information shared by the participants that are not being discussed in any of the theories already mentioned. The researcher intends to use NVivo to help organize and analyze the unstructured data qualitatively.
Pfeffer and Rogalin (2012) argue that moral decisions should be made throughout the research process. They point out four ethical rules for research on humans: the informed consent, confidentiality, consequences and the researcher’s role. Informed consent needs to be from the perspective of the participants themselves. Confidentiality shall be ensured to them, as some of the information they may share may be too sensitive that revealing their identities may be risky. Insurance of safety and security of the participants is present at all times during the interview process. The researcher’s role is to conduct clearly the interviews as best as she can with utmost sincerity, honesty, and kindness. This study shall comply with the ethical standards and considerations in conducting research with human participants.
Hinkel (2011, p. 71) states how “Ethical research involves getting the informed consent of those you are going to interview, question, observe or take materials from.” Guidelines are given by Hawkins (2014) who maintains that an informed consent form should contain specific information, such as the nature and purpose of the project, information on confidentiality and anonymity, and a note to participants regarding freedom to withdraw from the study. All of the information highlighted as important will be included in a preliminary letter, as well as in a consent form that will be completed before the interview. The informed consent form will be included at the appendix of the final report. Also included in the letter will be contact details for the researcher, should participants have any questions before the interview takes place. During the data collection stage, confidentiality of participants will be respected at all times. The participants will be informed, in the letter that will be sent to them, that they are free to withdraw from their participation any time they feel uncomfortable, or their safety and security are threatened due to the information they share.
Limitations of the Research
This study has a limitation in terms of the research questions posed as well as the nature and small number of the participants recruited. Information derived from this research may not necessarily apply to the whole population of Native American women living off reservations, but they may be suggestive of the conditions experienced by such women. The findings should not apply to other cultural groups. These limitations should be put into consideration by anyone using the study.
Use of Research Data Results
Since marginalization of the Native American population is established in the literature review, a more detailed examination of the lives of Native American families living outside the Indian reservations is worth doing. Gaining first-hand information from Native American mothers with regards to their current life conditions, child-rearing, and the challenges they encounter in their daily lives is an essential step in identifying their needs. Such needs may be communicated to the appropriate agencies and individuals such as legislators, politicians, public administrators, social welfare personnel, etc. as they are in a better position to extend the much-needed help to such populations. Findings of this study may also be relevant in policy development and decision-making.
This chapter has thoroughly discussed the components of the research method proposed for this qualitative study. It has provided a background on the research process and compared qualitative and quantitative research methods. It has identified that the research methods to be used are Qualitative Content Analysis and Semi-structured interviews. It has also described the research design that indicated the selection of participants, setting, and procedure of the research plan. The only data collection instrument to be used is the interview guide questions that are enumerated in this chapter. The validity of the qualitative data is also justified. Analysis of gathered data from the interviews is fully discussed as well. The research methods selected for this study will be best suited to the research topic on the lived experiences of Native American women raising their children off the reservations. Ethical considerations in conducting this study are discussed as well as the limitations of the study and the use of the research data to be derived from the interviews with the Native American mother participants.
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