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March 2009Vol. 10, No. 2Urban Indians

While approximately half of Native Americans live in urban areas, including 800,000 Native children, there has not been a strong research focus on the needs of these Indian families or on practice models for serving them. A recent study from the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC), funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, looks at the historical factors that contributed to the large urban Indian population, current demographics, and implications for urban Indian organizations and for child welfare and other services.

The study points to the health and risk indicators for urban Indians, noting that this population experiences more risk factors than their counterparts living on reservations, including lower rates of prenatal care and higher rates of infant mortality. Compared to the general urban population, the urban Indian population experiences higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, poverty, and child maltreatment.

The study includes a synopsis of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the role of urban Indian organizations in advocating for urban Indian children who enter the child welfare system. Recommendations are included for strengthening connections between urban Indians and other Native communities and for conducting research on the needs of urban Indian families.

Urban Indian America: The Status of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families Today is available on the NUIFC website: (2,147 KB)