Those jobs ain’t coming back: The consequences of an industry collapse on two tribal reservations

Project Summary:

This research project uses qualitative data to explore the mechanisms that link the decline of employment options to the rise in drug use, the decline in labor force participation, and other negative socio-economic and behavioral consequences for males. Unlike many studies of industry decline which look at urban communities, this work focuses on the loss of natural resource employment in rural areas. Specifically, the researcher focuses on the lack of employment options and life outcomes on two Native American tribal reservations, The Yurok and Hoopa Valley Reservations, located in California’s northwest. A member of the Yurok tribe herself, the researcher’s data provides a unique contribution. We also see the research as having useful insights on the consequences of declining male labor force participation, particularly in non-urban settings. From a policy engagement perspective, the rich stories that are likely to come from this qualitative work will help provide the narrative and texture that is necessary for capturing policy attention.


Blythe George graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Sociology. At Dartmouth, she was a Mellon Mays Fellow and won the national Beinecke scholarship as a junior and was one of two students to complete the College’s interdisciplinary Senior Fellow opportunity. As part of this extended year-long project, she conducted quantitative and qualitative research on Native student performance in northern California and continued this research after graduation as a data consultant and guidance counselor for area schools. She is attending Harvard University as an Ashford Fellow, and received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2014 for her work on concentrated disadvantage on the Yurok and Hoopa reservations, located in Northern California. Ms. George is a member of the Yurok Tribe and her first project will examine the intersection of unemployment, gender, and crime on these reservations, which are set within the context of slack local labor markets and deeply entrenched tribal expectations of men as fathers and providers.