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Raising the Next Generation: Indigenous Parents and Caregivers

Indigenous parents and caregivers surveyed paint an interesting picturea dichotomy that reflects a complex and complicated reality of their nations and communities in America. More than 8 in 10 worry that despite trying to give their children everything, America doesn’t offer every child the same opportunities.

Limited Opportunities

Q: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “I try to give my children everything for them to succeed, but I worry that America doesn’t offer every child the same opportunities.”?

Case sizes: <250% FPL (N=296); >250% FPL (N=110); Dads (N=132); Moms (N=273); Non-college (N=277); College+ (N=129); Parents of children 0-5 (N=209); Never lived on reservation (N=204); Lived on reservation >1 year (N=197)

“ I feel like [my kids] have to work harder to succeed because our world is geared towards, not them being first.” Indigenous interview participant, New Mexico  

Opportunities for their Children

Despite the inequities they see, Indigenous parents and caregivers overwhelmingly feel their children will have more opportunities to succeed and thrive than they did. Most parents think it is very likely that their children will have strong, positive role models; have a chance to go to college or vocational school; or experience a strong social support network.

Q: Now let me ask you about other experiences your children might have. How likely do you think it is that your children will experience the following during their childhood and teen years?

“I want better, of course we want better … I wasn’t happy as a child so I want them to be happy. But I also want them to know that not everything is given to you either. You got to fight for what you get, and you’ve got to be humble about yourself.” Indigenous focus group participant, Oklahoma

Nearly 9 in 10 Indigenous parents say they frequently feel lucky to be a parent, and many feel supported by family and friends. They believe they provide their children with everything they need to be successful. Most parents believe they possess strengths that help their families succeed through difficulties. They report a strong work ethic, a feeling you have the power to change your family’s situation, and creativity in solving problems as especially important assets in getting through hard times.

“We may not have everything we want, but what I give my kids, what I provide for them is what we need, and that for me is most important.” Indigenous focus group participant, Alaska

Q: As a parent or guardian of a child, how often do you feel _______? Would you say frequently, sometimes, hardly ever, or never?

Q: How important is each of the following in helping your family get through hard times and to succeed?

Impacts of Racism and Discrimination

On measures of racism and discrimination, more than half are concerned about how it will limit their children’s opportunities. Two-thirds of Indigenous parents feel that systemic racism and discrimination can make it harder for someone like them to get a good paying job or medical care.

Q: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “Systemic racism and discrimination can make it harder for someone like me to get a good paying job, live in a safe community, attend quality schools, and get good medical care.”?

There are differences between Indigenous parents who have lived on a reservation or native lands for more than a year and those who have not. Those parents who have lived at least part of their lives on a reservation or native lands are more likely to report seeing inequities in opportunities for their children. They also report more limitations on their own opportunities to thrive. 

Additional Reports by Race and Ethnicity

This study includes equal representation of parents and caregivers from five different racial and ethic backgrounds, Indigenous as well as Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Latino, and White. Explore detailed reports of the survey findings for the other groups here.

About the Study

Raising the Next Generation: A Survey of Parents and Caregivers” examines what it is like to raise children in America today by asking questions to equal numbers of parents and caregivers from five different racial and ethnic groups: Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous, Latino, and White. The survey builds on interviews and focus groups conducted over an 18-month period in 16 cities and in seven different languages with parents and caregivers from more than a dozen racial, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds. The survey and qualitative research were conducted by the nonpartisan research firm PerryUndem and a broad set of partners with culturally specific expertise.

Indigenous Parents and Caregivers