Infancy and Culture: An International Review and Source Book

By Hiram E.Fitzgerald; Rosalind B.Johnson et al. | Go to book overview

5

NATIVE AMERICAN AND ALASKAN ALUET INFANCY RESEARCH

A DlSADVANTAGED CULTURE

Mary Judge-Lawton

The literature search for information about Native American and Alaskan Aleut infants and their families uncovered only 24 articles about the Native American population. Currently, the U.S. government recognizes that Native Americans have a disproportionately low socioeconomic status and has a long history of funded programs designed to enhance education and health. However, the history between the U.S. government and Native Americans is fraught with tension. The “Indian Unit” as taught in schools illustrates a continuing misrepresentation and apathy toward Native Americans. The taking of land, forced relocation, an institutionally racist educational system, removal of Indian children from their homes, U.S. paternalism, breaking of multiple treaties, obstacles to self-governance, and stripping of tribal recognition and denial of religious freedom are all remembered in the lives of the Native Americans. Overall, the Native Nation believes that federal policy is equal to Native American genocide.

Cited over and over are such issues as: tribal sovereignty, Indian identity, civil rights, economic development, gaming, alcoholism, and the continuing argument over sacred lands. Directly or indirectly, these issues affect the health and welfare of the Native American infant and his or her family.

The Native Nations have had ongoing disagreement with the U.S. government regarding the rights of the tribes to be a sovereign nation. Where the government has said that Native Americans have rights under the U.S. constitution, and have enacted the Civil Rights Act (1968) and the Indian Child Welfare Act (1978), among others, the Native Americans will say that no Native Nation ever ratified the U.S. Constitution. They state that they are not a part of the U.S. or its federal system.

The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was supposed to be an affirmation of the value of Indian cultures, their ability to self-perpetuate and

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