Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Mari Ann Graham


The purpose of this study is to describe American Indian caregiver behaviors that promote secure attachments and keep tribal practices alive through transgenerational transmission. This qualitative study included interviews with three American Indian participants to describe culturally specific caregiver behaviors promoting secure attachments. The urban Indian participants in this study’s purposive sample participated in interviews that yielded four salient themes and three sub-themes. The themes included: connection to culture, importance of extended family, significance of elders, and respect as a value. The three sub-themes under connection to culture included: language, ceremonies and practices, and re-visiting the reservation. The results of this study indicated that Indian ceremonies and practices such as powwows, smudging, and celebrations of life and death were essential to American Indian caregiver behaviors promoting secure attachments with Indian children. Cultural connections through language and history were indispensable sources of pride in being Indian and fostered healing of past trauma. Furthermore, child rearing included blood relatives and non-familial tribal community members. Also, caregiver modeling of behavior that is respectful of the earth and all life was an important factor in promoting and transmitting transgenerationally secure attachment behaviors. Attachment behaviors can look different across cultures, but still arrive at a universally secure attachment.


transgenerational transmission, American Indian, attachment, caregiver behaviors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.