Assessing Cultural Life Skills of American Indian Youth

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Abstract

While the global United States society emphasizes independence and emancipation from parents and families as appropriate transition tasks for adolescents in foster care, American Indian communities tend to stress interdependence and continuing youth, family, and community connections. The purpose of this naturalistic collective case study is to describe cultural life skills needed by American Indian youth to leave foster care and successfully transition into adulthood. Three Northern Plains Native reservations and two urban Indian communities participated. The research team partnered with the American Indian gatekeepers, elders, youth, and professional staff in efforts to embrace qualitative methods, considered the best way to legitimate and liberate Native ways of knowing. Findings take into account the subtleties of vast diversities among America's First Nations' people and support the importance of positive cultural influences in youth identity development.

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