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The impact of kin support on urban American Indian families

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Abstract

Scholars believe that family ties extending out to previous generations, called kin support, may have allowed American Indians to withstand traumatic events. Although a series of traumatic and historical events disrupted the social structures of family life, kin support was found to be a major factor in the survival of American Indians. This study utilized the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to compare American Indians and whites (n = 1227) in factors that impact kin support. While urban American Indian mothers were similar to whites in a number of elements, American Indian mothers that were not married, fell below the poverty threshold, were younger in age and co-resided with kin were more likely than their white counterparts to receive kin support. Implications for urban American Indian mothers suggest that maintaining their role as kin keeper may serve as an intrinsic reward and motivation for caring for kin. The role of a kin keeper may also promote the unique contribution in their families and the preservation of their culture. Given the minimal research in this area, results of this study can be used to guide future research and the development of intervention strategies for practitioners working with American Indian families.

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