An anthropological analysis of successful aging: The Stockbridge -Munsee band of Mohican Indians
This ethnographic study investigates the social processes and programming that support successful aging in the Stockbridge-Munsee (Mohican) reservation community in northeastern Wisconsin. It found that the elder social services offered in this community both reinforced and built upon Mohican cultural beliefs and practices toward the elderly, and in so doing met all four of the conditions defined as necessary for successful aging. Three main characteristics of the Mohican elder services were found to facilitate the process of successful aging: they were structurally flexible and adaptable, valued personal engagement between elders and workers, and were culturally inflected. They were also supported by four aspects of the sociocultural construction of aging within the Mohican community: elders were embedded in a web of reciprocal relations, had an esteemed role as cultural transmitters, played an active role in the community's renegotiation of its identity, and were fully integrated into the life of the community. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for our understanding of aging, for social service practices, and for future research.