Publication Date



This report is based on our first wave of interviews with 445 either former or current welfare families with children. The respondents were from three Indian reservations (Navajo, San Carlos and Salt River) within Arizona. This information was substantiated by several focus group interviews with welfare recipients and tribal social service providers. The results provide useful insights into understanding the characteristics of welfare recipients on reservations. The characteristics of the welfare caseload on reservations indicate that rapid decline in caseload at the national and regional level will not automatically result in similar caseload decline on many American Indian reservations. A substantial proportion of respondents from these reservations report a serious shortage of job opportunities and support services. Welfare recipients on reservations have lower levels of education than the general welfare population in the nation. Only a fraction of these women are employed. Moreover, even the few who are employed are earning below poverty level incomes. These women report material hardship, such as food, fuel, and clothing insufficiency. This report further demonstrates that welfare families on reservations have not benefited from the recent economic prosperity experienced at the national and state level. In order for women on reservations to exit welfare, job preparation, job opportunities, and support services will need to be provided. Federal, state and tribal governments will have to work together to attain this shared goal of helping families exit poverty. Congressional reauthorization of TANF in 2002 provides an opportunity to involve tribal governments in the upcoming debates and gain an in-depth understanding of the complexity of problems on reservations.

Document Type



Working Paper