What is the impact of Indian gaming on educational attainment among Native American tribes? Is there a correlation between Indian gaming and poverty rates? Utilizing a combination of cross-sectional analysis and longitudinal case studies, I examine whether Indian gaming has an impact on educational attainment. I also explore the economic mechanism of how this effect occurs. I analyze the 1990 and 2000 census data in addition to raw data collected from the National Indian Gaming Commission website, which provided the year selected Native American tribes were approved to pursue the establishment of gaming on their reservations. No significance was recorded in the correlation between Indian gaming and the population of 16 to 19 year olds not enrolled in school and not a high school graduate. The cross-sectional analysis of the 2000 census data, along with the data collected from the National Indian Gaming Commission website, also suggests no link exists between Indian gaming and improvements in educational attainment and enrollment. In all the models testing Indian gamings influence on education, the number of years a tribe has operated Indian gaming establishments under the approval of the National Indian Gaming Commission did not prove to have any statistically significant effect on educational attainment as tested by the population 16 to 19 years old not enrolled in school and not a high school graduate and therefore falsifies my hypothesis. My model did show that the population 16 to 19 years old not enrolled in school and not a high school graduate was significantly affected by families living below the poverty line, household per capita income, percent of 16 years and older employed, married couple families, and female headed households. It also provided evidence that the percentage of families living below the poverty line is decreasing and median/per capita household incomes are increasing for all 205 Native American tribes studied and even more so for those tribes that have Indian gaming establishments. Because of the bias measure of Indian gaming as determined by the approval of tribal gaming ordinances by the National Indian Gaming Commission, the goal of my case study research is to provide some explanation for a possible link between Indian gaming and education in my quantitative analysis. I will compare three control groups as identified by tribal affiliation. The first control group will consist of two tribes selected on the criteria that they do not have any form of Indian gaming before the year 2000. The operation of a less profitable Indian gaming establishment provides the conditions for the second control group. And the third control group is comprised of two tribes selected on the provisions that it operates highly successful and profitable gaming establishments. I will also examine their successes in educational attainment as measured by the population not enrolled in school and not a high school graduate. Therefore, I purposefully selected five tribes for my longitudinal case studies: The Lumbee, Navajo, Paiute, Mescalero Apache and Potawatomi tribes. The Lumbee and Navajo tribes did not have any form of Indian gaming during the 1990s and the percentages of their high school graduates and individuals receiving a bachelor's degree were substantially lower and the percent of their population not enrolled in school and not a high school graduate was higher than the Paiute and Potawatomi tribes who have highly successful Indian gaming establishments. The Mescalero Apache tribe is struggling to make profits through Indian gaming and their education measures fall in between these two control groups. These case studies point to other factors that may contribute to educational attainment and school enrollment. Carol J.Ward offers a different perspective on her case study on the Northern Cheyenne Indian students. She believes the problem is more complex than money and found a connection between drop-out rates and community involvement. The contextual elements of the community and reservation did not match the context of the public school which shed some light on the high drop-out rates. The implications for further research include conducting more in-depth case studies to find the processes that might help explain successes of failures in education and compiling a more complete data set detailing the duration of Indian gaming on Native American reservations and testing its impact on education and economic measures.
Level of Degree
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Indian gaming, Education, Economic Stability
Diaz, Aaron. "THE IMPACT OF INDIAN GAMING ON EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT, POVERTY AMONG NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES." (2009). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/soc_etds/11