IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Culture, context, and sexual risk among Northern Plains American Indian Youth


  • Kaufman, Carol E.
  • Desserich, Jennifer
  • Big Crow, Cecelia K.
  • Holy Rock, Bonnie
  • Keane, Ellen
  • Mitchell, Christina M.


American Indian adolescents have two to four times the rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) compared to whites nationally, they shoulder twice the proportion of AIDS compared to their national counterparts, and they have a 25% higher level of teen births. Yet little is known about the contemporary expectations, pressures, and norms that influence American Indian youth or how those might be shaped by today's lived cultural experiences, which frustrates attempts to mitigate the apparent disparity in sexual health. This paper used data from focus groups, in-depth interviews, and surveys with American Indian adolescents and young male and female adults from a Northern Plains tribe to contextualize sexual risk (and avoidance). Placing the findings within an adapted indigenist stress-coping framework, we found that youth faced intense pressures for early sex, often associated with substance use. Condoms were not associated with stigma, yet few seemed to value their importance for disease prevention. Youth encountered few economic or social recriminations for a teen birth. As such, cultural influences are important to American Indian sexual health and could be a key part of prevention strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaufman, Carol E. & Desserich, Jennifer & Big Crow, Cecelia K. & Holy Rock, Bonnie & Keane, Ellen & Mitchell, Christina M., 2007. "Culture, context, and sexual risk among Northern Plains American Indian Youth," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(10), pages 2152-2164, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:64:y:2007:i:10:p:2152-2164

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:2:200-208_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2004.054171_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:64:y:2007:i:10:p:2152-2164. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.