Community Assessment Applied
Native American Community of Multnomah County
Multnomah County is among the 36 counties of the Oregon state in the United States. It is the states’ smallest region yet the most populous county. The Native American community of Multnomah County comprises of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other Tribes who trace their origins to the Columbia River (Stevens, Hemmer & Color, 2011, p. 5). This group forms the smallest population of Multnomah county demographics at 1.03% of the total population mainly consisting of whites, Asians and African Americans. The Native Americans live throughout the county, although they have had a tendency of concentrating in several areas among the Kerns and the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhoods (Edmonston &Lee, 1999, p. 4). According to the census survey of 2009 the demographics of these people, mainly comprises of a youthful population with 38% of the population being 24 years of age or younger while only 5% are above the age of 65.
The Native American community of Multnomah has experienced a steady population growth over the past decade as can be seen from them chart below.
Source (Stevens, Hemmer and Color,2011, p. 15)
A community assessment of the Native American Community of Multnomah is handy owing to a number of characteristics that are associated with this group:
The rates of poverty among this group are alarming; the poverty rate in these communities is thrice that of their white neighbors (Graves, 2011). This is further complicated by the rising statistics of children and single parenting. Family poverty is particularly intense estimated at over four times that of the white neighborhoods. As can be seen from the graph below, the poverty levels of Native Americans in Multnomah are higher than those from any other region in the United States. It is also a matter of concern the level of education of this group is significantly low (Graves, 2011). For instance, the Native American youths are less likely to enroll in schools compared to any other group of Multnomah County while more than half who attend high school fail to graduate and more so only 54% of those who graduate join higher education institutions. This group has been reported to have low rates of access to health insurance citing discrimination reasons. The rate of Native American youths’ involvement in crime and incarceration and significantly high estimated at twice that of the white population.
Source: (Stevens, Hemmer & Color, 2011, p. 25)
These statistics call for a community assessment of the community in question. Finding of the assessment will aid in formulating necessary policies and taking measures aimed at uplifting the livelihoods of this marginalized group of people. The assessment shall be conducted as soon as an okay to conduct it is given, citing financial and resource constraints, the assessment shall be conducted within a time frame of three months from its flagship date.
Owing to the limited financial resources available to the researcher, mainly provided by their academic faculty there will be limitations in the approach undertaken for this assessment. In order to represent the diverse needs of this community, this assessment shall be conducted through multiple channels.
Interviews and background search
As a technique of data collection, interviews shall be used to gather information from more influential persons in the communities in question. These will include the community leaders and local government as well as health officers.
Due to the size and demographics of the subject population, focus groups constituted an essential tool for collecting data within the population.
Owing to the unique characteristics of this group and their long standing history, there exist numerous documented statistics on them. This assessment shall therefore incorporate the previous information available from reliable sources such as census reports to collect data.
Based on the nature of the questions presented to the respondents, irrespective of age and gender, it was evident that four issues community issues existed. These are, in order of rank;
- Poor health access
- Lack of education
Poverty and unemployment are the apex concerns of this community. Poverty, ranked at the very top is considered the mother of all problems faced by this group (Edmonston & Lee, 1999, p.9). This poverty usually stems from the lack of employment. The majority of the Native Americans in Multnomah are either unemployed or under casual employment that attracts low returns which often cannot suffice their material and health needs. Poor and sometimes lack of access to health facilities, resources and insurance are also on the priority list of the most pressing community issues in the group. Most respondents cite discrimination reasons for their marginalized health needs. HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases were identified as the major causes of death among the Native Americans in the county (Stevens, Hemmer and Color, 2011, p.63). Other health problems cited stemmed from poor health behaviors such as tobacco use and poor nutritional diet.
Most of the Native Americans in the region have only minimal or sometimes no academic achievements and this has dismally affected their employment statistics (Edmonston and Lee, 1999, p. 7). Lack of education stems from the high poverty index of the group, which makes them unable to take care of the cost of education on the backdrop of overwhelming family commitments. The Native American community of Multnomah County is among the marginalized groups in the United States whose needs ought to be addressed through policy formulations, government and community initiatives so as to raise their standards of living.
Edmonston, B., &Sharon M. Lee. (1999). Demographic Profile of the Native American Population of Multnomah County, Oregon. Investigative . Portland, OR: Center for Population Research and Census.
Graves, B. (2011). “Report paints ‘An Unsettling Profile’ of Native Americans in Multnomah County.” The Oregonian 2 November 2011: Web.
Stevens, C. A., Cross A. H., & Coalision of Communities of Color. (2011). The Native American Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profil . Informative. Portland , OR: Portland State University.