Major Survey on American Indians with Disabilities Released

NCAID Executive Director Cinda Hughes. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert

Published July 17, 2017

WASHINGTON – The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) in collaboration with the National Center on American Indians with Disabilities (NCAID) are conducting a comprehensive resource and needs assessment pilot project called “Native Communities Living United for Disability Equality” (NCLUDE). This first of its kind survey will examine the level of inclusion of urban AI/ANs living with disabilities in California, Oregon, and Washington. This assessment is meant to identify barriers to care and services, as well as opportunities to expand services, while increasing the knowledge base on this vulnerable population.

Urban AI/ANs living with disabilities face tremendous challenges to participate in their communities. Approximately 27 percent of nearly 5.4 million American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people living in the United States lives with a disability–a rate higher than any other demographic in the United States (2015 American Community Survey). There are roughly 1 million urban AI/ANs that live with disabilities, given that 71 percent of the AI/AN population lives in urban areas.

In spite of this number, very little is actually known about the lives of this vulnerable part of the community. There is little to no data or minimal knowledge is available to appropriately and efficiently approach customized services for AI/ANs living with a disability. Largely unheard and marginalized, they have highest rate of disability and lowest opportunity for access to culturally sensitive programs and services of all races. Therefore, it is imperative to demonstrate through hard data what challenges and barriers that AI/ANs with disabilities struggle with on a daily basis and why providing culturally competent services is so vital for independent living.

“AI/ANs with disabilities are the least known and most vulnerable members of our people. Our voices and opinions are seldom solicited. This survey is absolutely vital to proving to decision-makers what our needs are in urban areas. I believe that the final report will be truly groundbreaking,” says Native disability professioanal, Cinda Hughes (Kiowa), executive director of NCAID.

NCUIH and NCAID, committed to cultural competency, is consulting with an experienced Native researcher, Eric S. Trevan, Ph.D., a member of the faculty at The Evergreen State College and chairman of Gun Lake Investments. Dr. Trevan received his Ph.D. in Community Resources and Development, Arizona State University. He is from Michigan and a member of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians.

“I am dedicated to improving the economic status of all tribal members, including AI/ANs with disabilities. This trailblazing survey will shine a light on a significant yet unheard from part of our community,” comments Dr. Trevan.

The survey is being sent to Native regional and national organizations, to disability organizations and social service facilities. We strongly urge all adult Natives with a disability living off the reservation in California, Oregon, and Washington to please participate and answer the survey. NCUIH will mail out a gift card to those who complete the survey. The online version of the NCLUDE Survey is located at this web address:

Please share this article and survey web address with those living off the reservation in California, Oregon, and Washington. For more information on NCUIH, please visit:

Cinda Hughes is the Executive Director of the National Center for American Indians with Disabilities, the only national tribal organization solely dedicated to the needs of all Indians with disabilities. She is an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe who has lived with a severe disability since birth. Please email for more information.

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