Homelands and indigenous identities in a multiracial era

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Although multiple race responses are now allowed on federal censuses and surveys, most interracially married single-race parents report a single race for their children. It is well-established that the social context of these racial identification decisions affects their outcome. This research focuses instead on the physical context. It is argued that homelands - physical places with cultural meaning - are an important component of the intergenerational transfer of a single-race identity in indigenous mixed-race families. To test potential explanations for the relationship between homelands and indigenous identities, this research focuses on families in which an interracially-married American Indian lives with a spouse and child and was included in the Census 2000 5% Public Use Microdata Sample. Logistic regression reveals a strong effect of living in an American Indian homeland on the child's chances of being reported as single-race American Indian. This effect remains even after accounting for strong ties to American Indians and other groups, family and area poverty levels, geographic isolation, and the racial composition of the area. The intergenerational transmission of strong identities continues in this multiracial era (as it has for centuries) in the context of culturally meaningful physical places.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-609
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010


  • American Indians
  • Census
  • Homeland
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Place
  • Racial identity


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