The US has witnessed significant growth among urban American Indian (AI) populations in recent decades, and concerns have been raised that these populations face equal or greater degrees of disadvantage than their reservation counterparts. Surprisingly little urban AI research or community work has been documented in the literature, and even less has been written about the influences of urban settings on community-based work with these populations. Given the deep commitments of community psychology to empowering disadvantaged groups and understanding the impact of contextual factors on the lives of individuals and groups, community psychologists are well suited to fill these gaps in the literature. Toward informing such efforts, this work offers multidisciplinary insights from distinct idiographic accounts of community-based behavioral health research with urban AI populations. Accounts are offered by three researchers and one urban AI community organization staff member, and particular attention is given to issues of community heterogeneity, geography, membership, and collaboration. Each first-person account provides "lessons learned" from the urban context in which the research occurred. Together, these accounts suggest several important areas of consideration in research with urban AIs, some of which also seem relevant to reservation-based work. Finally, the potential role of research as a tool of empowerment for urban AI populations is emphasized, suggesting future research attend to the intersections of identity, sense of community, and empowerment in urban AI populations.
- Behavioral health disparities
- Community-based research
- Urban American Indians