The Role that Cultural Connectedness Plays in Fostering Educational Sovereignty for American Indian Youths: A Transformative Mixed Methods Study

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American Indian, Native American, Indigenous methodologies, cultural connectedness, Youth Mental Health, Suicide, ethnography, transformative mixed methods


In this Indigenous grounded, transformative sequential explanatory study, the author examines the influence an American Indian way of knowing educational paradigm had on cultural connectedness in a sample (n = 41) of American Indian youths attending a public school on a federally recognized Indian reservation. The author uses ethnographic writing to share his cultural journey with American Indian cultural immersion teachers. Participants completed a survey packet including a demographic form and, an adapted cultural connectedness survey. Results indicated that positive aspects of an American Indian way of knowing educational paradigm were associated with increased cultural connectedness (Spirituality, Identity, and Traditions) for American Indian youths. The author also sought to capture youth participants' perspectives to develop a deeper understanding of how they conceptualize cultural connectedness resulting in the identification of eleven culturally specific categories. These findings may help inform a broader development and application of an American Indian way of knowing instructional model that contributes to strengthening cultural identity in American Indian youths through culturally sustaining and revitalizing pedagogies.


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Author Biography

Shawn Clark, Arizona State University

Shawn Clark served as a building-level administrator for 19 years, including seven years at the largest American Indian student attending high school in Montana. Shawn earned his Doctoral degree in Education (Leadership and Innovation) at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. His research centers on elements of belongingness, cultural pluralism, and rural education.


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How to Cite

Clark, S. (2022). The Role that Cultural Connectedness Plays in Fostering Educational Sovereignty for American Indian Youths: A Transformative Mixed Methods Study . Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 9(3), 168–193.



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