American Indians
American Indians have suffered greatly as a
result of:
land distribution
Cultural Loss
 Culture and language were systematically
striped from over 125,000 tribes
 Stripping American Indians of their culture,
has lead to high rates of alcoholism
The American Indian and the
Alaskan Native
 This is a very heterogeneous group
 Some families are matriarchal and some are
patriarchal in orientation
Tribe and Reservation
 Indians see themselves an extension of their tribe
 Tribe and reservation provide American Indians with a sense
of belonging and security, forming an interdependent system
 Status and rewards are obtained by adherence to tribal
 The reservation itself is very important for many American
Indians, even among those who do not reside there
 Indians who leave the reservation to seek greater
opportunities often lose their sense of personal identity,
since they lose their tribal identity
Specific Problem Areas for
American Indians/Alaskan Natives
 Sharing
 Noninterference
 Time Orientation
 Spirituality
 Nonverbal Communication
Traditional. The individual may speak little English,
thinks in the native language, and practices traditional
tribal customs and methods of worship.
Marginal. The individual may speak both languages but
has lost touch with his or her cultural heritage and is not
fully accepted in mainstream society.
Bicultural. The person is conversant with both sets of
values and can communicate in a variety of contexts.
 Assimilated. The individual embraces only
the mainstream culture’s values, behaviors,
and expectations.
 Pantraditional. Although the individual has
only been exposed to or adopted
mainstream values, he or she has made a
conscious effort to return to the “old ways.”
Guidelines for Clinical Practice
Before working with American Indians, explore ethnic
differences and values
Determine the cultural identity of the client and family members
and their association with a tribe or a reservation
Understand the history of oppression, and be aware of or inquire
about local issues associated with the tribe or reservation for
traditionally oriented American Indians
Evaluate using a client-¬centered listening style initially and
determine when to use more structure and questions
Assess the problem from the perspective of the individual,
family, extended family, and, if appropriate, the tribal
Guidelines for Clinical Practice
If necessary, address basic needs first, such as problems
involving food, shelter, child care, and employment--identify
possible resources such as Indian Health Services or tribal
Be careful not to overgeneralize, but evaluate for problems such
as domestic violence, substance abuse, depression, and
suicidality during assessment and determine the appropriateness
of a mind-¬body-¬spirit emphasis
Identify possible environmental contributors to problems such as
racism, discrimination, poverty, and acculturation conflicts
Help children and adolescents determine whether cultural values
or an unreceptive environment contribute to their problem
Guidelines for Clinical Practice
Help determine concrete goals that incorporate cultural, family,
extended family, and community perspectives
Determine whether child-rearing practices are consistent with
traditional Indian methods and how they may conflict with
mainstream methods.
In family interventions, identify extended family members,
determine their roles, and request their assistance
Generate possible solutions with the clients and consider their
consequences from the individual, family, and community
perspectives. Include strategies that may involve cultural
elements and that focus on holistic factors (mind, body, spirit)