paper: What Drives Indian Poverty?


In the past thirty years, growth in Native American educational attainment has surpassed that of non-Hispanic whites.  Despite these gains, poverty has only increased.  During this time, several important developments proliferated across Indian country, including gaming and energy projects, expanded social and health services, new forms of tribal governance, and the advent of tribal colleges. This project examines the ways in which changing tribal structures and processes are impacting American Indian well-being.  Results suggest that despite educational achievements among American Indians, these gains are not translating into improved wages and currently the biggest driver of Indian poverty is declining employment opportunities.  These continued inequalities partially result from continued Indian residential segregation, which not only reduces contact between whites and Indians, but also increases the distance between Indians and the goods, services, and jobs that compose the larger economy.  Analyses also examine the extent to which changing tribal structures are improving access to jobs and decreasing reservation poverty.