“Native boys and young men are an underserved, neglected demographic – statistically invisible and ignored by society – and the existing data paints a dire picture of them in relation to opportunities in life that are suppressed starting at a young age.” ~ Michael E. Roberts, First Nations President and CEO
Efforts that foster stronger linkages between Native American boys and young men and their cultures and communities can help significantly improve the outcomes of their lives, including their social and educational attainment, according to a new report issued recently by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations).
The report, titled “Advancing Positive Paths for Native American Boys & Young Men: A Project Evaluation,” was prepared following a project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NEO Philanthropy, and the Kalliopeia Foundation. It is available as a free download from the First Nations Knowledge Center at http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/investing-in-native-youth (Note: If you don’t already have one, you will have to create a free online account in order to download the report.)
Under the project, First Nations supported five program models in Native American communities aimed at connecting and mentoring Native boys and young men. The report notes that “improving outcomes for youth in Indigenous communities remains an important area of research and program intervention” that can inform Native education on a larger scale. It highlighted the five innovative programs that are restructuring the pedagogical approaches toward fostering linkages to cultural communities and enhancing relationality among Native boys and young men.
Participants in the project were the Cocopah Indian Tribe and the STAR School, both in Arizona, the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute and Tewa Women United, both in New Mexico, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in Texas.
“Native boys and young men are an underserved, neglected demographic – statistically invisible and ignored by society – and the existing data paints a dire picture of them in relation to opportunities in life that are suppressed starting at a young age,” said Michael E. Roberts, First Nations President and CEO. “They have one of the highest middle and high school dropout rates among ethnic groups, and are much more likely to be suspended from high school compared to white boys and young men. Worse, the suicide rate is higher, too. This report and the programs supported really highlight the idea that Native boys and young men have better outcomes in life when they retain connection to their Native cultures and traditions, and have positive role models in these areas. We need to build on these findings and enhance their scale across Native America.”
According to the report, studies reveal that both on and off reservations, many schools are not providing an appropriate education for Native students in a manner that incorporates their Native heritage through teaching and curriculum. This structural and institutional racism results in discontinuity between their home culture and what is taught in school, often contributing to disengagement and increased dropout rates.