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Capstone

Native American Identity Formation in Relation to Educational Experiences

1 May 2014

Abstract

Previous research in the fields of Critical Race Theory, Tribal Critical Race Theory, education, and identity formation suggests that one’s educational experiences influence the construction and formation of a Native American identity. An examination of this literature leads to the question: how do educational experiences influence the construction and formation of Native American Identity? I propose that scholastic influences of peers, teachers and curriculum can have positive and negative influences on one’s identity formation. Using snowball sampling I conducted seven semi-structured qualitative interviews with individuals aged 18-65 to examine the relationship between educational experiences and identity formation. Preliminary analyses indicate that familial socialization has a strong effect on identity formation. Individuals who attended non-reservation public schools, reservation schools and off-reservation boarding schools all explain that the interplay between family and education is a primary factor in enabling their positive attitudes towards Native American identity formation. Those who expressed negative feelings towards their identity developed this perspective through negative interactions within the classroom setting. Participants spoke of the negative light that Native American history is cast under in a scholastic setting, and ignorant or rude comments made by their peers. The results support the theory that the interplay between educational experiences and familial influence shape the construction and formation of Native American identity.


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