As protectors of culture and history, American Indian and Alaskan Native elders are vital to the well-being of communities and traditions. Any work in elder abuse, and neglect with native elders must have a strong cultural and community component, often guided by tribal elders themselves. Native elders have helped to expand accepted types of abuse to also include spiritual abuse … not allowing or involving elders in cultural events within their community.
Work in elder abuse is relatively new in Indian Country, with only limited data available. Tribes are currently developing tribal codes to protect elders. Indicators of abuse are also being developed and high-risk situations are starting to be identified.
Native American Resource Centers and Clearinghouses
Administration on Aging (AoA) currently funds four Resource Centers for Older Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. These Resource Centers provide culturally competent health care, community-based long-term care, and related services. They serve as focal points for developing and sharing technical information and expertise for Native American organizations, Native American communities, educational institutions, and professionals working with elders.
National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI) was created to address the lack of culturally appropriate information and community education materials on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation in Indian Country.
The National Indian Council on Aging focuses on 1) access to information; 2) more effective options for self-care and longevity information and awareness; and 3) to streamline and increase access to aging.
National Resource Center on Native American Aging provides education, training, and technical assistance. A major project of this Resource Center has been the development of an elderly needs assessment tool to assist Tribes in planning for elder care services.
The University of Alaska-Anchorage aims to: 1) empower Native communities to incorporate traditional and contemporary health practices within community health care systems; 2) provide technical information to promote culturally sensitive and functionally appropriate services to maintain social well-being; and 3) provide an arena for discussions about the increasing problems of elder abuse to help Native communities in developing their own plans to reduce and control occurrences.
Hā Kūpuna, University of Hawaii at Manoa, the National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders focuses on improving the well-being of Native Hawaiian elders by forging stronger collaborative relationships between the University, Native Hawaiian and gerontology communities.
Elder Abuse in Indian Country
Reclaiming What is Sacred: Addressing Harm to Indigenous Elders and Developing a Tribal Response to Abuse in Later Life (PDF, 9.41 MB) from National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), Victoria Ybanez (Red Wind Consulting), and Lauren Litton (ISP Consulting) is a resource for tribes and villages on how to create meaningful responses to abuse in later life, It identifies specific guiding philosophies, cultural considerations, and potential action steps tribes and villages might wish to do when addressing abuse in later life in their communities.
Native Cultures—Domestic Violence
Other Sources of Information