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 Points of Interest
 Native Teen Voices


Sexual Experiences

Birth Control

Feelings about Pregnancy

How Youth Spent
    their Time

Feelings about Self,
    School, Parents and
    the Future

Feelings about Indian


The Native Teen Voices Survey collected information from urban Native American Teens concerning their feelings about sex, teen pregnancy, school, family relationships and their behaviors, such as sex, problem solving, out of school time, and their involvement in Native American cultural and spiritual activities.

The survey data were collected in 2004 as part of a research partnership between the Twin Cities Native community and the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.  Data collection was Native-led through focus groups and written surveys completed by youth. 

Project Investigators were Wendy Hellerstedt PhD, MPH, Ann Garwick PhD, RN, LMFT, LP, Kris Rhodes MPH (Anishinabe), Melanie Peterson-Hickey PhD (Anishinabe), Carrie Morris MSW (Omaha), Justin Huenemann MA (Navajo), and Shawnee Hunt (Anishinabe and HoChunk).  In addition, the following young adults co-facilitated the NTV focus groups: War Eagle Martin (Menomonie and Dakota), Julia Littlewolf (Anishinabe) and Lisa Skjefte (Anishinabe).

For more information about the study contact:    Wendy Hellerstedt (

Native Teen Voices: Survey Participants
148 teenagers representing more than 20 tribal affiliations were interviewed:

Sex and Age:  13-15 year
16-18 years
  Race: 65% - American Indian
15% - American Indian & White
11% - American Indian & Black
  9% - American Indian & Hispanic
  Tribal Affiliations:  79% - Ojibwe
30% - Lakota/Dakota
  2% - Ho Chunk
  7% - Other
  3% - Unsure

Native Teen Voices:  Sexual Experiences

  • Reasons teens gave FOR
           having sex
  • Reasons teens gave for NOT
          having sex
  • Detailed information and
  • About half of young people in the U.S. have ever had sexual intercourse by the time they are 19.  Participants in Native Teen Voices are similar:  59% of the teens reported ever having had sexual intercourse.   Of those who reported ever having had sex, the average age of the first experience for both boys and girls was between 14-16 years of age. 

    There is a difference between having ever had sex and having recent or current experience.  Among NTV participants, 70% of the sexually experienced reported having had sex in the 3 months preceding the survey.

    Among the sexually experienced youth, older males had the most lifetime sexual partners.  Half of the 16-18 year-old males reported 5 or more partners, while over half of 16-18 year-old females reported 4 or more partners.  Fifty percent of the sexually experienced males and females between the ages of 13-15 years reported 1 or 2 sexual partners.

    Native Teen Voices:  Birth Control
    Photo: condomsOf those who reported they were sexually experienced, 84% of the males and 86% of the females aged 16-18 reported having ever used birth control.  Of interest was that females, aged 13-15, reported the greatest frequency of planning ahead to use birth control (100% reported usually or always planning ahead in this age range).

    Almost half of the males aged 16-18 years reported planning ahead to use birth control; older males were the most likely (17.4%) to report NEVER planning ahead.

    Detailed information and graphs

    Native Teen Voices:  Feelings about Pregnancy
    Photo: Pregnant girlTeen were asked how they would feel if they became pregnant (girls) or caused someone else to become pregnant (boys).  The three top responses included feeling afraid, worried and confused, followed by upset and depressed.  Females reported they would feel upset and depressed about becoming pregnant at nearly double the rate of males. 

    Most of the adolescents reported a pregnancy would get in the way of their plans for the future.  None of the females felt a pregnancy would fit into their plans for the future while 8% of the males reported a pregnancy would fit into their future plans.

    Females aged 16-18 were most likely to report that a pregnancy would make it hard to fit in with friends. About one-third of males and females aged 16-18 reported that a pregnancy would neither make it harder OR easier to fit in with friends.

    Detailed information and graphs

    Photo: two girlsNative Teen Voices:  How Youth Spend Their Time
    Most youth reported feeling satisfied with how things were going in their lives.  They reported spending the most time in activities that involve hanging out with friends and family, outdoor activities, watching TV, and playing video games.  About half of the youth reported spending at least three hours a week working for pay or doing chores at home. 

    More on how youth reported spending their time


    Native Teen Voices: Feelings about Self, School, Parents and the Future

    I am satisfied with how things are going in my life

    I am good at planning ahead

    When things go bad for me, I am good at finding a way to make things better

    When I am an adult I will have a good life

    Most youth, male and female, reported they were good at planning ahead, however about one-third of the males aged 16-18 either weren’t sure, disagreed, or disagreed strongly that they were good at planning ahead. 

    When asked to respond to the statement, “When things go bad for me, I am good at finding a way to make things better” most youth agreed they were good at making things better with the exception of females aged 13-15.  Over half of them reported not being sure, disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that they were good at finding ways to make things better.  Girls in this age group also were less sure about having a good life when they reach adulthood.  Over half of them were unsure or disagreed that they would have a good life as an adult.

    When asked to respond whether the following statement was true of them,  “It is easy for me to say ‘no’ when someone wants me to do something I know is wrong or dangerous”, boys aged 13-15 were the most likely to report feeling unsure about the statement and the least likely to strongly agree.  Most other youth however either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.

    Detailed information and graphs

    Native Teen Voices: Feelings about Indian Culture

    Photo: Indian DancersNearly all of the teens reported feeling good about being American Indian and, if given a choice, would not change their cultural heritage.  A strong sense of cultural identity was reflected in answers concerning participation in Native cultural and spiritual activities.

    Detailed information and graphs



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