Breathing the Air of Their Ancestors: The Influence of Ethnic-Racial Identity on School Connectedness for Native American Youths

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Native American, Indigenous methodologies, ethnic-racial identity, school connectedness, transformative mixed methods


In this Indigenous-grounded, transformative sequential explanatory study, the author examined the influence of ethnic-racial identity exploration on school connectedness in a sample of (n = 41) Native American youths attending a public school on a federally recognized Indian reservation. The students were enrolled in a Native American cultural immersion program. Participants completed a survey packet including a demographic form, an adapted cultural connectedness survey, and the MAC 5-A-Short Version six-item school connectedness subscale. While the results indicated that ethnic-racial identity exploration slightly impacted school connectedness, they were not deemed statistically significant. The author also captured youth participants' perspectives to develop a deeper understanding of how ethnic-racial identity exploration impacted school connectedness, identifying eight categories. These findings may help inform a broader development and application of a Native American way of knowing instructional model that contributes to strengthening school connectedness for Native American youths through ethnic-racial identity exploration.


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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 Native American 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. (2023). Breathing the Air of Their Ancestors: The Influence of Ethnic-Racial Identity on School Connectedness for Native American Youths. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 10(4), 134–158.



Original Manuscript
Received 2023-04-14
Accepted 2023-08-17
Published 2023-09-19