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Indigenous poverty: Conceptualizing and defining well-being from inside the Navajo nation

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Abstract:

The Navajo Nation has the highest poverty rate of any ethnic group in the United Sates, even among American Indians. However, recent poverty studies have begun to consider what it means to be poor from perspectives outside simple income measures. This study recognized the need for poverty definitions to extend beyond income and towards multidimensional considerations.

The stated purpose of this study was to facilitate Navajos through a process of well-being definition and operationalization. The study used a Q-Squared Participatory Poverty Assessment to better understand of how the Navajo people themselves view and experience wealth and poverty. Semi-structured participatory interviews performed with 22 Navajo Indians, in the reservation communities of Chinle, Arizona, and San Juan, New Mexico, discussed and determined what it means to be poor in Navajo households and communities, and defined various levels of well-being on the reservation.

Based on the interviews, indicators of well-being were established whereby the Navajo do not see themselves as poor. The Navajo do not measure poverty in the same manner as Western society. Instead of by income, wealth and poverty are defined by a combination of assets which include, inter alia, family, culture/tradition, religiosity, self-sufficiency, livestock and transportation. Thus, the Navajo themselves do not agree with the traditional poverty data, and actual poverty levels in the Navajo Nation are much lower, based on locally produced definitions of poverty. The findings are situated upon a rights-based approach and a model of holistic Navajo education to target and mitigate Navajo poverty.

Author's Keywords:

Poverty, Well-Being, Navajo
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p485963_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Baum, Donald. "Indigenous poverty: Conceptualizing and defining well-being from inside the Navajo nation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Apr 30, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p485963_index.html>

APA Citation:

Baum, D. R. , 2011-04-30 "Indigenous poverty: Conceptualizing and defining well-being from inside the Navajo nation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p485963_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The Navajo Nation has the highest poverty rate of any ethnic group in the United Sates, even among American Indians. However, recent poverty studies have begun to consider what it means to be poor from perspectives outside simple income measures. This study recognized the need for poverty definitions to extend beyond income and towards multidimensional considerations.

The stated purpose of this study was to facilitate Navajos through a process of well-being definition and operationalization. The study used a Q-Squared Participatory Poverty Assessment to better understand of how the Navajo people themselves view and experience wealth and poverty. Semi-structured participatory interviews performed with 22 Navajo Indians, in the reservation communities of Chinle, Arizona, and San Juan, New Mexico, discussed and determined what it means to be poor in Navajo households and communities, and defined various levels of well-being on the reservation.

Based on the interviews, indicators of well-being were established whereby the Navajo do not see themselves as poor. The Navajo do not measure poverty in the same manner as Western society. Instead of by income, wealth and poverty are defined by a combination of assets which include, inter alia, family, culture/tradition, religiosity, self-sufficiency, livestock and transportation. Thus, the Navajo themselves do not agree with the traditional poverty data, and actual poverty levels in the Navajo Nation are much lower, based on locally produced definitions of poverty. The findings are situated upon a rights-based approach and a model of holistic Navajo education to target and mitigate Navajo poverty.


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