We aim to understand what the process of social mobility looks like for Indigenous Peoples, the factors that are unique to Indigenous social mobility, and the impact that increasing wealth has on connections to community and culture. In settler societies, upward social mobility is measured by looking at inter-generational increases in post-secondary degrees, professionalization, economic wealth, and social and cultural capital (access to resources embedded in ties to community and culture). Census data in the U.S, Canada and Australia suggests that there has been a steady increase in the number of Indigenous people who are socially mobile. A three-country, cross-sectional study of middle class Indigenous entrepreneurs shows that their social and cultural capital are diverse, and that an important measure of success is continued engagement with their Indigenous communities. Yet, public and academic discourses perpetuate the belief that social mobility impacts negatively on Indigenous people, by placing cultural identity (and legitimacy) at odds with capitalism and economic prosperity. This “damage-centered” approach ignores increasing diversity and prosperity within Indigenous communities, and promotes a colonial mindset that structures settler-Indigenous relationships and limits the way policy is crafted.
Adapted from: https://www.hss.mun.ca/research/showcase/wealthing-out-of-identity-indigenous-peoples-entrepreneurship-and-social-mobility/
St. John's, NL