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Native American Families in the United States


The United States of America represents a society comprising of family designs which have been created and duly developed by a systematic flow of events characterized by a wide range of racial and ethnic grouping which infiltrated into the this country at different historical times with varying reasons. These multiracial groups differ on a variety of issues such as cultural practices and belief systems, social and economic endeavors, family ties, relationship patterns which are transmitted from one generation from one generation to another as well as patterns which are keenly related to places of residence. This diversity has made the American family exist as a monolithic entity yet so much integrated amid a myriad of diversity. Moreover, the conceptual existence and pragmatic reality of race and ethnicity has been a thorn in the flesh among the minority and disadvantaged groups. There are several remarkable intrinsic differences between the Native Americans, minority groups and on the other side the whites. This paper gives an in-depth analysis of the Native American society alongside other minority groups in terms of the human capital, time of arrival and demographic characteristics, geographical location as well as their possible intention to return o r become permanent residents of the United States.

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Human capital

The racial minorities were not easily adopted and assimilated in the United States. The situation was quite unique (Taylor 8). The American society was absorbed with a keen interest in the nature of an individual’s skin colour. There was a serious obsession on the race factor in the sense that the society was stratified by racism and its ramifications. Fr instance, the naturalization law enacted in 1970 was a sure evidence of how racial segregation had dominated the United States. According to this law, only liberal white immigrants would be entitled to acquire citizenship by naturalization. Hence, for slightly more than half a century, the naturalization law openly segregated the non whites entering the United States from acquiring citizenship as it was the case with the white Americans. Besides, this law did not only deny the incoming minority groups from acquiring citizenship, it also prohibited the indigenous Native Americans from becoming legal citizens. The Native Americans were perceived to be just a tribal grouping whose status was similar to the immigrants. For this reason, they could not make any application regarding the acquisition of citizenship simply because they were not whites. Furthermore, the Chinese alongside other smaller Asian sub tribes were equally ineligible to acquire citizenship in spite of the fact that they were highly regarded as potential laborers in the underdeveloped western states (Hansen 227). The reason advanced for this denial was that they were not original white Americans and that they were operating in the capacity of alien immigrants therefore had no legal rights to demand for citizenship (Taylor 17).

For these reasons, a sharp difference was clearly marked in the United States as far as the belief and practice of race and ethnicity was concerned. By 1965, the immigration policy was amended to mark the beginning of amore sound and human practices on racial and social justice. Several research data has indicated that the status of entry and working condition were the main factors which defined racial spirit and minority groups. Addressing the issue of racial and ethnic challenges which faced the native Americans and other minority groups does not exclude other factors which played important roles is escalating racial and ethnic violence against the non whites. The incorporation of these economically and politically marginalized groups created some intrinsic differences which left indelible mark in the entire American society. There are several scholarly works which have deliberated upon quite a number of background features and situations of racial and ethnic minorities which enhanced certain categories of people to advance and develop at a faster rate than others. Examples of such characteristics include education, long term working skills and competence. All these are generally referred to as human capital which can be derived from persons or a cluster of people. This is when the theory of intrinsic difference between the minority groups and the whites sets in. This theory, according to Taylor (2002), shows or displays remarkable and intrinsic racial and ethnic group differences. This is specifically concerned with the creation and distribution of human capital. Taylor emphasizes that those immigrants who possessed relatively high standard of education alongside other desirable experiences were at an advantage point of being absorbed in the labour market and therefore their human capital was deemed necessary and fruitful. They could secure employment in the urban industrial centers with much ease contrary to the immigrants who originated from societal backgrounds with poor or sub standard levels of education. Therefore, the urban encounter coupled with high degree of ability to read and write as well as proper occupational competences were highly valued in the job market. Those who mostly benefited from these competences were the European immigrants from the north. Other groups in this category included Jews especially from the eastern part of Europe. Moreover, Asians from the eastern part were more profitable in terms of their human capital up until the contemporary economy. These intrinsic differences are adequate to expound the reason why groups eventually started taking active occupation of different social and economic ladders (Kidwell 52).

Time of arrival and demographics

Over and above the intrinsic difference noted in the distribution of human capital among the immigrants, there were other pertinent factors which undoubtedly marked a historical perspective on the relationship between the minority groups and the dominant whites. As noted earlier, the a few privileged Asians as well as European immigrants enjoyed the benefit of better working conditions due to the skill s and knowledge which they previously had. Nevertheless, the timing of arrival and the population features such as gender count difference, geospatial distribution and the composition of the race and the ethnic groups with the localized human capital market indeed put some other group s ahead of others as they strived to gain socio-economic strengths and growth. According to the theory of intrinsic difference as put forward by Taylor (2002), the timing of entry time was significant due to the fact as groups made their entry at varying historical times; each one of them was surfaced with unique economic and socio-political circumstances alongside distinct opportunities to be recruited as employees. For instance, there are those Europeans who made their entry in the United States before the end of the frontier and also before the emergence of large scale production were still in a position to convert the usable arable land into profitable ventures. Additionally, these early Europeans to settle in the United States had the golden chance of engaging in entrepreneurial activities. During this term, the Irish ignored the rural set up while at the same time adopting the manual jobs which were available. This time period was also marked by quick growth in the manufacturing industry (Norton 97). As a result, the majority of urban dwellers joined the workforce alongside with their children. On the same note, most Germans who were artists in different fields came to the realization that the potential markets for their wares were quickly diminishing. The economic downturn experienced during the nineteenth century affected those minority groups who were arriving in the United States at this time. Nonetheless, those minorities who made their migration before the economic depression struck experienced greater dispersal in terms of job placement. Moreover, they could no t be able to demonstrate endu5ance from one generation to another compared to groups which had just started to make their entry into the United States of America. This is yet another intrinsic difference as illustrated by Taylor (242).

Geographical location

Apart from the above factors which were duly influenced by arrival time, the geographical location and accumulation of aliens in specific regions within the United States where they could easily secure working opportunities best describing their knowledge and abilities. For instance, there was a high concentration of immigrants from the continental Europe in the urban and industrial locations. In these industrial set ups, they secured employment opportunities. This only possible before the close of the nineteenth century when car manufacturing industries were still vibrant in the manufacturing process. One dominant feature of these early groups which arrived in the |United States is that most lacked advanced education and were only endowed with elementary skills and competencies which would barely enable them secure manual jobs where specific technical skills were no t a pre-requisite. Moreover, other racial groups who were considered minorities went through a similar process amid the challenges that were eminent (Barnes 76). The accumulation of Asian settlements on the coastal strip depicted the entry ports as well as a practical symbol for economic vacancies. This was a similar scenario with other migrants from Cuba and Mexico. In the case of Canada, it was affected by the fact that it was near to the different locations of the United States of America. For most blacks who were mainly in the southern parts of United States, there were unique characteristics which operated among them. On the same note, Hispanos eventually resided in some of the territories which had been taken away or bought as the United States expanded its borders. As a result of the expansion plan, unique location designs when finally the regions were made and parcel of the United States. The subject on location was not a slight issue but had important implications. For example, location helped the minority groups to assimilate themselves through a number of socio-cultural practices which included marriage across different cultures which further affected how employment could be secured. From this, the subject on family revenue grew in its importance and it led to rampant if not frequent movement of people in search for better employment terms. In addition, location factor as an intrinsic difference grossly influenced employment and family structures by creating other desires as discussed in the sub section below.

Intentions to return or become permanent residents in the U.S

There was a growing concern among the immigrants over whether to stay put in the United States or alternatively become permanent residents in the United States. For those immigrants who initially had the plan to relocate back to their countries, they were mostly comprised of Asians and Europeans from different parts of Europe. This category comprised of men who were mainly single and had left their families back home although their main duty was to fend for the family and which was left back. Apart from men who were from Chinese origin and were working as labour groups in the western part, those immigrants who were not married were less likely to do so with the indigenous whites from the United States. This was mainly attributed by the fact that women from their countries of origin were not adequately presented there. Besides, some of them had an inner burning desire to improve on their economic well being before they could engage in family affairs which could only lead to financial spending before they were stable to do so (Barnes 76).

On the other hand, there are those groups which had a long term plan to secure permanent citizenship in the United States. Case examples were the Germans from Europe. Similarly, there were Jews and Scandinavians as well as Irish nationals who had a similar plan to seek permanent in the United States. According to the theory of intrinsic difference as put forward by Taylor (86), the ratio between the male and female gender was nearly equal due to the fact the aforementioned groups trooped into the United States as either individual persons or family members. There are those writers who unanimously agree that the inequitable ratio between the male and female gender worked towards delaying the rate at which families could be formed. Nevertheless, studies carried out on the patterns of minority groups movement especially among Americans who existed during the second generation revealed that those minority groups which happened to attain optimum performances were in one or the other comprised of those individuals who had not married. For some sections within the United States, the improvement and upgrading in the working status o f the individual minority groups which was later followed with notable economic advancement were made possible by the heavy presence of those minorities who were not of European origin. The strategy used was that of recruitment followed by restriction to movement. Most of the jobs offered to these confined people were low cadre jobs. It was later evident that these immigrants found it challenging to elude from the reality that they were doing the low category jobs. However, their counterparts in the other parts of United States had wider options of either deciding to stay put or vacating their jobs. The employment terms were quite different elsewhere with an equally varying racial and ethnic ingredient (LaVeist 54). Nonetheless, when the immigration pattern from Europe substantially went down towards the beginning of twentieth century which also coincided with transfer of African-Americans to the north eastern part, the entire prevailing situation was significantly altered. The blacks agreed to offer their manual labour which had been considered to be unpalatable employment by their fellow blacks in the southern parts of the United States of America (Laurence 97). Therefore, the opposition and segregation which was experienced by the by the European immigrants from different parts of Europe was altered and channeled towards the surging population of the African-Americans who were not liked at all bearing in mind that racial segregation was still at its peak by this time. Besides, the economic reasons why these groups progressed are quite important in this discussion.

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Most Native Americans have developed and conceptualized a theory that the only breakthrough towards rescuing the Native American socio-economic culture is through disbanding itself from the administrative systems of the white western administration. This will involve the formation of an administrative structure based on the ideals and values of the Native Americans. This minority group feels that the westernized government has derailed their pride and identity for hundreds of years. The argument advanced towards this call for a complete transformation is that the way the western administration is run; it goes against the cultural values which are usually highly cherished by the Native Americans. For this reason, there is a general overwhelming feeling of discontent that the Native Americans cannot be governed by an authority which does not give them due regard for their culture. Moreover, the Native Americans are at a state of disillusionment with the authority which they strongly assert that it is highly racial and ethnicity carries the day (Leeder 82). Therefore for more superior and influential races, there is more to celebrate compared to the small disadvantaged groups. Be it a culture or not, the Native Americans believe that they have suffered a lot for many years in the hands of the racially biased white regime. They have gone through decades of cultural degradation and malice. Rarely have they been listened to or understood.

Characteristics of present day Native Americans

The term Native Americans has been used to refer to American Indians. This is an ethnic group in the United States which has diversity in terms of linguistic structure, way of life, belief system as well as political organizations and structures. The historical perspective of the Native Americans goes beyond those of other minority groups in the United States. Currently, the Native American population is growing at a very fast rate compared to other ethnic groups after it dwindled sometimes back in the nineteenth century (Taylor 226).

One of dominant features of the Native Americans is that they are resilient enough and quite flexible to the dynamic environmental conditions. One of the highly valued institutions among the Native Americans is the family. From the prehistoric times to modern era, a family has been the main means of harnessing support and modeling for survival. This has been achieved through physical defense mechanisms and cooperation both in social and economic domains. For a fact, a family was such a formidable social unit that any one who would estrange him or herself from this noble institution was bound to fail. For the contemporary Native Americans, the family has a slightly condensed responsibility in matters regarding family survival. However, family networking has incessantly dominated the contemporary society (Young 65).

An analytical comparison between Native Americans and other minority groups reveals that less is known about this minority group. For instance, this group is virtually small in terms of demographics and most of them reside in the rural setting. In 1980, the total Native American population stood at about one and a half million people only representing less than one per cent of the entire United States population.

The Native Americans take the middle position between the blacks and whites in respect to their likelihood to live as married individuals or as single parent families. The other version or interpretation of this fact is that the Native Americans have a lower probability to live as singles or with other individuals of whom they are not related with in a common household (Garbarino 128).

In terms of the family structure and values, the traditional practices of the American society value the rising of children in a modest environment where both parents are available to take part in the upbringing process. In the case where one of the spouses is absent, it is considered inappropriate by the Native American society due to some reasons. To begin with, the absence of one or both parents is believed to deprive the child of the significant role modeling they require to emulate from their parents as they grow up. Another belief put forward by the native Americans is that households which are dominated by single parents are more likely to expose children to a more unstable social environment as they grow up.

In terms of marriage, it has been found out that not all Native Americans would choose their fellow natives as spouses of choice. There are prevailing cross-cultural and multiracial marriages which are eminent in the modern times. The racial features of this minority group are important in two ways. In the first case, the level at which native Americans are chosen by other groups as marital partners is clear pointer of racial discrimination. Segregation in the line of race reduces the potential chances of different races intermingling through marriage set ups. Another important sanding point in regard to the practice of intermarriage among the Native Americans is that culture is slowly diffused from one generation to another. As intermarriage takes its toll among the Native Americans, it is moiré likely that this minority group will sooner or later start and be part and parcel of active mainstream culture.

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To do the aspect of assimilation which is brought about by cross cultural and inter-racial marriages, there is an admirable reason to the fact that more of the natives, who have considered minority groups for long and subordinated, will eventually find their way into the dominant American culture and be active participants as well. Some of them might as well, decide to do away with their cultural heritage and embrace the new systems (Young 76).


In summing up this paper, it is imperative to note that the historical background of the Native Americans alongside other minority groups like the African –Americans has been one laced with racial and ethnic imbalance for as long as the American history is put into perspective. The theory of intrinsic difference as put forward by Taylor depicts the multi-racial differences which existed in the United States right from the onset of the settlement of minority groups in that country. These differences existed on the basis of skin color and are broadly divided into four categories namely intrinsic differences in the flow and demand of human capital, time of arrival and demographic characteristics, location and Intentions to return or become permanent residents in the U.S.


Barnes Celia. Native American power in the United States, 1783-1795, MA: Rosemont publishing, 2003

Garbarino James. Children and families in the social environment, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1992

Hansen V Karen. Not-so-nuclear families: class, gender, and networks of care, New York: Rutgers University press, 2005

Kidwell Sue Clara, Velie R Alan. Native American studies, Manchester: Edinburgh University press, 2005

Laurence E Lynn. McGeary, G. H Michael. Inner-city poverty in the United States.

National Research Council (U.S.). Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Committee on National Urban Policy, Washington DC: National Academic Press, 1990.

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LaVeist Alexis Thomas. Minority populations and health: an introduction to health disparities, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass publishers, 2005

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Taylor Lewis Ronald. Minority families in the United States: a multicultural perspective (3rd ed.), New York: Prentice Hall, 2002

Young Ramsey Donald. Research memorandum on minority peoples in the depression, New York: Arno Press Inc., 1972

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