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A tribal critical race theory analysis of academic attainment: A qualitative study of sixteen Northern Arapaho women who earned degrees at the University of Wyoming

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Lorinda S Lindley
Abstract:
This qualitative study explored the academic and social experiences of 16 Northern Arapaho women who earned degrees from the University of Wyoming (UW) focusing upon how the forms of community cultural wealth of the Northern Arapaho Nation impacted their experiences. A qualitative research design, based on an interview study methodology, guided my process. Throughout data analysis, my theoretical perspective--encompassing Tribal Critical Race Theory and the concept of community cultural wealth from Critical Race--informed my practice. Counter-storytelling--showcasing the voices of the participants themselves--is the connection between theory and practice. The findings of this study contribute to our knowledge of American Indians/Alaskan Natives in higher education, including (a) the Northern Arapaho Nation has community cultural wealth comprised of various forms of cultural capital. The 16 women who participated in this study variously drew upon aspirational, familial, nation-building, navigational, and resistant cultural capital as they worked toward earning degrees at a predominantly White university; (b) McAfee's (1997; 2000) concept of "stepping out" is a much more useful concept to describe the trajectories of AI/AN students in higher education than the concepts of dropping or stopping out; (c) the findings of this research support Waterman's (2004; 2007) assertion that a theory of student integration in higher education (Tinto, 1993) is not appropriately applicable to AI/AN students. The transculturation hypothesis (Huffman, 1999; 2001; 2008) is an alternative framework for understanding AI/AN students in higher education; (d) some of these Northern Arapaho embody transformational resistance as they gained skills and credentials from UW with which they are empowering their community now. I then offer implications for theory, practice, and research.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page

Copyright Declaration............................................................................................................ii Acknowledgements................................................................................................................iii Table of Contents...................................................................................................................iv List of Tables.........................................................................................................................vii List of Figures........................................................................................................................viii List of Appendices.................................................................................................................ix

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCING THE CHALLENGE.................................................1   Significance of the Study....................................................................................................4   Theoretical Framework...............................................................................................5   Research Question......................................................................................................5   Background of the Study....................................................................................................5   Overview of Remaining Chapters.......................................................................................6   CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW.....................................................................9   General Overviews of Indian Education.............................................................................9   Literature Pertaining to Higher Education Experiences...................................................10   Persistence................................................................................................................14   Degree Attainment....................................................................................................15   Cultural Discontinuity...............................................................................................18   Typologies of American Indian/Alaskan Native Students.......................................22   Traditional AI/AN Students......................................................................................23   Review of Relevant Qualitative Studies...................................................................25   American Indian Mascots.........................................................................................37   Ethnic Fraud..............................................................................................................38   A Complex Path to Haudenosaunee Degree Completion.........................................39   Critical Race Theory.........................................................................................................40   Definitions of Race, Racism, and White Privilege...................................................40   Tenets of Critical Race Theory.................................................................................41   Critical Race Theory in Education............................................................................44   Notion of Ritual........................................................................................................51   Concept of Integration..............................................................................................52   Tribal Critical Race Theory..............................................................................................54   Community Cultural Wealth.....................................................................................60   Funds of Knowledge.................................................................................................61   Repertoires of [Cultural] Practice.............................................................................63   Sociocultural Perspective on Cultural Capital..........................................................65   Counter-Storytelling.................................................................................................69   Hinono’eino’—the people........................................................................................72   Education..................................................................................................................77  

v

Community...............................................................................................................81   Nih’oo3ou’u and Knowledge....................................................................................84   Historical Perspectives of American Indian Women................................................87   Descriptions of American Indian Women................................................................88   Values and Practices of Contemporary American Indian Women...........................90   Hinonei’heiseino’ – Arapaho Women......................................................................92   CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY.......................................................................101   Community and Participants...........................................................................................101   Northern Arapaho Endowment...............................................................................103   Researcher as Participant................................................................................................104   Respect for Language and Culture of Participants.................................................106   Gaining Access and Finding Participants...............................................................106   Qualitative Research Design...........................................................................................108   Ethics of Doing Research with Indigenous Nations and People............................108   Interview Study.......................................................................................................110   Interviewing............................................................................................................111   Data Collection Procedures............................................................................................120   Memo Writing During Data Collection..................................................................121   Transcriptions.........................................................................................................123   Data Analysis..................................................................................................................124   Inductive Process....................................................................................................124   Coding the Data......................................................................................................125   Memo Writing During Data Analysis.....................................................................126   Data Reduction.......................................................................................................127   Trustworthiness of the Data and Findings......................................................................134   Limitations......................................................................................................................135   CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS......................................................................................137   Participant Data...............................................................................................................138   Representations of Data..........................................................................................138   Incidence of Analytic Codes...................................................................................142   Forms of Cultural Capital...............................................................................................144   Aspirational Capital................................................................................................145   Responsibilities to children.....................................................................................145   Importance of being a positive role model.............................................................148   Commitment to a set of principles and values........................................................149   Familial Capital.......................................................................................................151   Strong Arapaho women..........................................................................................151   Importance of “Dads”.............................................................................................153   Parents who “kept” the children.............................................................................155   Nation-Building Capital..........................................................................................156   Cultural integrity: Representing a great tribe.........................................................157   Self-determination: Investing in the Arapaho people.............................................158   Navigational Capital...............................................................................................158  

vi

Resistant Capital.....................................................................................................160   Trenchant Examples.......................................................................................................164   Trenchant Example of CE.......................................................................................165   Trenchant Example of XY......................................................................................174   CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION AND CODA.............................................................187   Relationship to Past Findings.........................................................................................187   Community Cultural Wealth...........................................................................................196   Stepping Out...................................................................................................................198   Integration or Transculturation.......................................................................................200   On the Way to Transformational Resistance..................................................................204   Implications for Theory..................................................................................................209   Tribal Critical Race Theory (TribalCrit)................................................................209   Intersection of TribalCrit and Community Cultural Wealth...................................210   Implications for Practice.................................................................................................212   Northern Arapaho Nation.......................................................................................212   Administrators and Staff in Higher Education.......................................................213   Implications for Research...............................................................................................215   CODA.............................................................................................................................215   Politics....................................................................................................................215   Space.......................................................................................................................219   REFERENCES...............................................................................................................221  

vii

LIST OF TABLES

Page

Table 1: Students Leaving and Graduating from High School and Educational Enrollment Rates of 18-24 Year Olds in 2002-2003 by Race/Ethnicity 11

Table 2: Overall and American Indian Enrollment in IHEs in 2005-2006 12 Table 3: Percentage of AI/AN Enrollment by Type of Institution Fall 2005 13 Table 4: Enrollment Differences by AI/AN Females and Males from 1976-2005 13 Table 5: Degree Attainment in 2002-2003 by Race/Ethnicity at Four and Six Years after Matriculation 15

Table 6: Degrees Conferred to AI/AN Graduates in 2004-2005 in Comparison to Overall Attainment by Gender 16

Table 7: Comparison of Degrees Conferred to AI/AN Students in 1976-1977 and 2004-2005 by Gender Showing Percentage Change 17

Table 8: Overview of Qualitative Studies Reviewed 27 Table 9: Analytic Codes and Incidence by Alphabetic Order 139 Table 10: Analytic Codes with Operational Definitions by Order of Incidence 143

Table 11: Incidence of Codes by Forms of Cultural Capital 144

viii

LIST OF FIGURES

Page Figure 1: Changes in AI/AN Female and Male Enrollment in IHEs (NCES, 2005) 14 Figure 2: Ages of Participants at Time of Earning Bachelor’s Degree 140 Figure 3: Majors of Participants 141 Figure 4: Recipients and Graduates of Northern Arapaho Endowment by Gender 142

ix

LIST OF APPENDICES

Appendix A University of Wyoming Research Participation Consent Form 250 Appendix B Freedom of Consent 252 Appendix C Questions for Northern Arapaho Women [First protocol] 253 Appendix D Questions for Northern Arapaho Women who graduated from University of Wyoming (UW) 254 Appendix E Revised Protocol for Northern Arapaho Women Who Graduated from UW 256

1

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCING THE CHALLENGE This qualitative study explored the academic and social experiences of 16 Northern Arapaho women who earned degrees from the University of Wyoming (UW) from 1978 to 2008. The focus of this research was upon how these women persevered until they earned their degrees and what forms of the community cultural wealth of the Northern Arapaho Nation made a difference in their experiences. As sovereignty and self-determination are the driving issues of American Indian education, the accomplishments of these women are significant (Boyer, 1997; Brayboy, 2005a; Deloria & Wildcat, 2001; Lomawaima, 1995, 2000; Mihesuah, 1998, 2003; Mihesuah & Cavender, 2004; Pewewardy, 2002; Spring, 2004; Swisher & Tippeconnic, 1999). Most recent research in American Indian education has used a deficit theoretical approach and focused upon the elementary and secondary educational experiences of Native youth (Deyhle & Swisher, 1997; McCarty, 2002). Little research has been conducted with American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in higher education, notable exceptions being Brayboy, (1999, 2004, 2005a, 2005b), Castagno (2005), Castagno and Lee (2007), Garrod and Larrimore (1997), Guillory (2002), Huffman (1991, 1995, 2001, 2008), Jaime (2005), Shotton (2007), Tierney (1992), and Waterman (2004, 2007). The important focus of research upon why AI/A students who obtain degrees persist in their pursuit of higher education has been identified as a need in several documents pertaining to American Indian education. Blueprints for Indian Education: Research and Development Needs for the 1990s (Cahape, 1993) summarized the reports

2

from the Indians Nations at Risk Task force and the White House Conference on Indian Education. Although the two priority areas identified were bilingualism/language development and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, research regarding the unmet needs and progress in higher education was highlighted (Deyhle & Swisher, 1997). In Deconstructing the Myths: A Research Agenda for American Indian Education (Chavers, 2000), the following observations were made by a group of American Indian researchers, administrators, parents, school district employees, and tribal officials: (a) most research is conducted by graduate students, in partial fulfillment of degrees, who never again conduct another research project pertaining to American Indians; (b) the focus of most research is upon negative outcomes; (c) periodically a national researcher, after conducting research with a huge grant, issues findings demonstrating how badly Native students do in school, but little progress has come about because of these reports; and (d) “Such concepts as cultural differences, cooperative learning, learning styles, learning patterns, and most of the concepts in regard to Indian education are not defined or described ... others are generally accepted by many without having been adequately explicated or tested” (Chavers, 2000, p. 2). Pewewardy’s (2002) and Deyhle and Swisher’s (1997) research point to similar observations. As Pewewardy (2002) noted, there are about 510 federally recognized American Indian tribes, each of which has a unique social and governmental system. Of these there are “separate cultures and language groups [that vary] significantly from one another in values, spiritual beliefs, kinship patterns, economics, and levels of acculturation” (Pewewardy, 2002, p. 23). Pewewardy (2002) emphasized learning is

3

social: “Learners are not genetically predisposed to be one way or the other; they learn ‘how to learn’ through socialization processes that occur within societies” (p. 24). As Pewewardy further stated about AI/AN learning styles: Much of the learning styles research on American Indian/Alaska Native students has as its ideological base the primacy of the individual and individual differences. However, this may be an ideological blind spot that prevents researchers from understanding the role of tribal culture in supporting students’ learning and teachers’ instructional decisions. (p. 30) Stressing the importance of tribal culture to learning, Klug and Whitfield (2002) emphasize that learning takes place within cultural frameworks, including acceptable teaching practices within school. This thinking is in line with the sociocultural approaches to learning that have grown out of the cultural-historical psychology of Vygotsky (1987). For example, Gutierrez and Rogoff (2003) explained regularities in ways that cultural communities organize their lives proposing that “we talk about patterns of people’s approaches to given situations….their linguistic and cultural-historical repertoires as well as to their contributions to practices that connect with other activities in which they commonly engage” (p. 22). Research in Indigenous communities has provided evidence of the cultural nature of human development (Rogoff, 2003). As Hermes (2000) claims, “an approach that assumes culture is relational and constantly created anew would open up for possibilities for culture-based curriculum” (p. 396). By using a sociocultural lens, we are able to distinguish how peoples’

4

discernible patterns in their approaches to specific situations within a cultural and historical context are linguistic and cultural-historical repertoires. Significance of the Study Two research studies on American Indian students in higher education have analyzed why these students persevered and graduated (Brayboy, 1999; Waterman, 2004). No educational research has been conducted on Northern Arapahos who have attended the University of Wyoming—and certainly not on Northern Arapaho women who have earned degrees at this institution of higher education. My explicit intent is to examine how these women used their community cultural wealth to acquire skills and credentials from the University of Wyoming to return to their community and to help the people. I have focused upon the voices of these individuals who have persevered to counter the deficit ideology and stereotypes about American Indians in general and Northern Arapahos in particular. The theoretical framework I use is a hybrid form comprised of Tribal Critical Race Theory (Brayboy, 2005b) and the construct of community cultural wealth developed by Yosso (2005, 2006). By advancing this thesis regarding community cultural wealth, I am not asserting that there are not significant social issues on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Instead, the focal point of this investigation is on the strengths of these particular women that come from the wealth of the community. This cultural wealth persists despite all of the efforts to force assimilation upon the people (Anderson, 2001; Fowler, 1982). The findings and discussion of this research extend the empirical research on American Indian students in higher education

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as well as extending the theoretical framework with regard to AI/AN students in higher education. Theoretical Framework I have blended theories to create a framework that provides interpretive power. I used a sociocultural lens to undergird my understanding of learning and development (Rogoff, 2003); Tribal Critical Race Theory (Brayboy, 2005b) for exploration of the cultural, historical, and social issues within this context; and the concept of community cultural wealth within historically marginalized and devalued communities and their forms of cultural capital (Yosso, 2005, 2006), which can explicate experiences of the Northern Arapaho women who were my collaborators in this research. Research Question The question that framed this research is: What forms of community cultural wealth did Northern Arapaho women utilize as they worked towards earning degrees at the University of Wyoming? Background of the Study Shortly after commencing my doctoral studies, a Northern Arapaho woman suggested to me that I should make Northern Arapaho women the focus of my dissertation research. Paraphrased, her words were, “Why don’t you study us [Northern Arapaho women] and tell people how strong we are? Then these young people could know they can be like us and do anything.” After much contemplation and discussion with my mentors, I chose to conduct an interview study with Northern Arapaho women who earned degrees from the University of Wyoming.

6

On September 2, 2004, two of my potential participants and I attended a meeting of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, the elected body that conducts business and establishes policy for the Northern Arapaho tribe in between semi-annual general council meetings, at the tribal office in Ethete, Wyoming, to request permission to conduct my research. I made the commitment to the Council that I would not write about anything sacred to the tribe. After listening to our explanations, asking questions, and discussing the proposal, the Northern Arapaho Business Council granted permission for me to do the research. Overview of Remaining Chapters In this chapter, I have presented the purpose of the study, provided a cursory introduction to my theoretical framework, and set forth the question that guided my study and data analysis. Then I described anecdotal information on how I chose my research topic and, one of the most important parts of the process of my research, obtained permission from the elected leadership of the Northern Arapaho Nation to conduct it. In Chapter Two, I focus on a summary of recent reviews of American Indian education, discuss empirical research pertinent to higher education, and then focus on some gaps in knowledge suggested by a synthesis of previous qualitative research. I then construct a theoretical framework based on Tribal Critical Race Theory (Brayboy, 2005a) and the construct of community cultural wealth as it has emerged out of Critical Race Theory (Yosso, 2005; 2006). In Chapter Three, I describe the methodology of this research, discussing qualitative research and ethnography. I then turn to explication of the community and

7

participants, as well as the Wind River Indian Reservation. I frame my role as researcher as participant by sharing my 16 years of connection to the Northern Arapaho community and discuss issues of reflexivity and ethics. Of particular concern is the issue of ethics of research in Indigenous community—from an Indigenous view. My description focuses upon research design, data collection in a qualitative interview study, and the actual process I used for reducing and analyzing the data. Next I talk about how I checked on tribal enrollment status, my strategies for assuring the trustworthiness of the data, and the limitations of my research. Next are the voices of the participants in this research. I present findings based on data analysis in Chapter Four, providing excerpts from the transcripts of participants that illustrate the particular form of cultural capital being demonstrated. The specific forms of cultural capital—forms of community cultural wealth—were analyzed and found to be significant: (a) aspirational, (b) familial, (c) nation-building, (d) navigational, and (e) resistant cultural capital. Two trenchant examples, constructed from transcripts of two participants, especially elucidate nation-building capital and transformational resistance. In Chapter Five, I explicate how this research sought to explain what forms of community cultural wealth 16 Northern Arapaho women utilized as they earned their degrees. I then discuss how these findings align and connect with recent qualitative studies on AI/AN students in higher education highlighting where my findings corroborate, question, or extend previous qualitative research. I also offer other theoretical insights into issues raised by the findings of this study. I conclude by discussing some practical implications of my research with regard to practice and

8

research and with a coda that touches upon issues of human rights for women and sovereignty. To frame what follows in the next chapters, I have drawn from Debra Calling Thunder (1997, pp. 292-293), an Arapaho woman, who wrote: I am an Arapaho, a woman of the Blue Sky People, a nation from long ago. And we love words because words are life, binding all things sacred—the heavens and earth and generations. Words sing in our blood. They are the prayers and entreaties that ascend to the Creator Above, the songs our grandmothers and grandfathers cried from the edge of genocide, the circle of dreams that whisper of eternity. Words are the breath of time, and we love words because we love life and because words are in us. May our words and the words of all grieving nations be strong.

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CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW Much of the research that has been conducted on American Indian education has focused on why American Indians/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) students do not achieve academically. Notable comprehensive reviews of literature, by Deyhle and Swisher (1997), Lomawaima (1995), Pewewardy (2002), and Reyhner (2001) are instructive. Deyhle and Swisher (1997) provided a review of 60 years of educational research, particularly commenting on the poor quality of research both in design and findings, produced by use of the deficit orientation. Lomawaima (1995), in writing a chapter for the Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education, provided an overview of the United States (U.S.) government’s Indian policy with regard to American Indian education, which she has expanded in additional articles (1999, 2000). Pewewardy (2002) took on the issue of cultural learning styles and examined the research from this important area. Reyhner (2001) provided an updated overview that covers the influence of AI/AN traditional cultures, cultural difference and conflict among community and school, identities and healing, community control and indigenization, community attitudes towards schooling, characteristics of AI/AN students, teachers, role of AI/AN teachers, and the effects of local control. General Overviews of Indian Education Books by four authors provide general overviews of AI/AN education: Swisher and Tippeconnic (1999), Reyhner (1992), Rhodes (1994), and Gilliland (1999). Most notably, Swisher and Tippeconnic (1999) edited a collection of essays, all by AI/AN scholars, with broad ranging, contemporary topics in Next Steps: Research and Practice

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to Advance Indian Education. The common theme of these essays is a challenge to reverse the deficit orientation and assimilationist policies that have historically been destructively hegemonic. In Teaching American Indian Students, Reyhner (1992) concluded that when educational approaches use curriculum and teaching methodologies that are built upon what Native students learn in their homes and communities, students’ achievement is greater. Nurturing Learning in Native American Students (Rhodes, 1994) discussed various approaches to learning and concluded that Native students succeed when teachers act as coaches and facilitators and students can engage in active learning. Rhodes’ conclusions are based on reviews of research on AI/learning, the brain, learning styles, and other subjects. Gilliland (1999) has provided a fourth edition of Teaching the Native American in which he and his contributing authors discuss culturally relevant education with an emphasis upon the importance of cooperative learning, promotion of self-esteem, and teachers’ and other adults’ further development of high expectations of Native students. Literature Pertaining to Higher Education Experiences Tierney (1992) described the educational pipeline for AI/AN students, stating, “If 100 [Native] students enter the ninth grade, 60 of them will graduate from high school and about 20 will enter a post-secondary institution. Of those 20 students, about three will receive a four-year degree” (Tierney, 1992, p. 9). Recent data, as shown in Tables 1 and 3, provides evidence that Tierney’s projection still holds.

11

Enrollment Some aspects of enrollment are answered by looking at high school graduation rates and the percentage of young people between the ages of 18-24 who are enrolling in Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) in Table 1. In 2002-2003, 51% of AI/AN students graduated from high school; the college enrollment rates for AI/AN students 18- 24 year-olds was 18%. Table 1

Students Leaving and Graduating from High School and Educational Enrollment Rates of 18-24 Year Olds in 2002-2003 by Race/Ethnicity (NCES, 2005b)

All

Groups

American

Indian

Asian

American

Latinos

African

American

White

Rates of Students Leaving

School (Grades 9 - 12)

32%

49%

23%

47%

50%

25%

High School Graduation Rates

68%

51%

77%

53%

50%

75%

College Enrollment Rates

for 18 - 24 year - olds

38%

18%

60%

24%

32%

42%

Sources: Tierney, Salee, and Venegas (2007); Swanson (2004); NCES (2005b) This data must be considered beyond its face value. First, some individuals who leave or are pushed out of high school (Reyhner, 1992) do earn general equivalency degrees and then attend a postsecondary educational institution. Also, graduates from high school may defer their matriculation until years later. Thus, postsecondary enrollment may be higher than this data suggests (Tierney, 1992). While American Indians/Alaskan Natives constitute nearly 1.5% of the total United States population (NCES, 2007), they only comprise approximately 1% of higher

12

education enrollment. Table 2 outlines the number of students enrolled in college during the 2005-2006 academic year along with the number of enrolled students who identified themselves as American Indian or Alaskan Native. Table 2 Overall and American Indian Enrollment in IHEs in 2005-2006 (NCES, 2006) Type of Enrollment:

Overall Enrollment

American Indian/

Alaskan Native

Undergraduate

14,964,000

160,400 (1.07% of total)

Graduate

2,186,500

13,400 (.61% of total)

Professional

337,000

2,500 (.74% of total)

Total for all IHEs

17,487,500

176,300 (1.0% of total)

Brayboy and Castagno (under review)

These data indicate the significant under-representation of American Indians enrolled in IHEs at all levels of postsecondary education, but particularly in graduate and professional levels at .61% and .74%, respectively. The raw numbers of American Indians and Alaskan Natives enrolled have increased (NCES, 2006; Pavel, Skinner, Cahalan, Tippeconnic, & Stein, 1998). Of the overall number of students enrolled, 40% were attending part-time (NCES, 2006). In 2005, 81% of AI/AN students were attending public IHEs; 52.9% of these students were enrolled in two-year public institutions. While an analysis of differences of quality of educational experiences related to type of IHE is beyond the scope of this project, enrollment eligibility and financial issues are probably significant here. An important dimension of public IHEs are Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). In 2005, 13,515 AI/AN students were enrolled in TCUs. Women comprised 65% of the

13

Table 3

Percentage of AI/AN Enrollment by Type of Institution Fall 2005(NCES, 2006)

Institution

Type

Overall

American Indian/

Alaskan Native

AI/AN Percentage

of Overall

4 Year Public

6,837,600

67,200

1.0

4 Year Private

4,161,800

28,400

.7

2 Year Public

6,184,200

75,700

1.2

2 Year Private

303,800

5,000

1.6

Total

17,487,500

176,300

1.0

overall enrollment, 57% of whom were full-time students (AIHEC, 2006). Gender differences are a significant trend among AI/AN enrollment as shown in Table 4. Table 4 Enrollment Differences by AI/AN Females and Males from 1976-2005 (NCES, 2006) Year

Female American Indians/Alaskan Natives

Mal e American Indians

Difference in Enrollment

1976

49.4

50.6

- 1.3

1985

55.0

45.0

+10.0

1994

58.0

42.0

+16.0

2004

60.4

39.6

+20.8

2005

61.2

38.8

+22.4

In 2005, AI/AN women represented 61.2% of all AI/ANs enrolled in IHEs. In 1976, there were 38,500 AI/AN men and 37,600 AI/AN women enrolled in IHEs. The number of females enrolled grew to 108,000 in 2005, while only 68,400 men were enrolled. Women constituted the basis for the significant increase in enrollment levels for Native American students overall (Pavel, Skinner, Farris, Cahalan, Tippeconic, & Stein, 1998). Further consideration of this trend from 1976 until 2002 is graphically demonstrated in Figure 1.

14

Figure 1: Changes in AI/AN Female and Male Enrollment in IHEs (NCES, 2005)

The enrollment of AI/AN women in IHEs more than doubled from 1976 to 2002 (NCES, 2005). The preponderance of enrollees being female speaks to the importance of hearing the voices of AI/AN women in IHEs. Persistence The findings of qualitative studies with American Indian students in higher education by Brayboy (2000, 2005a, 2005b, 2006) and Waterman (2004, 2007) have described the determination and diligence of students in their pursuits of degrees. Quantitative findings are reported in Table 5. In 2002-2003, 19% of AI/AN students earned bachelor’s degrees within four years, in comparison to 39% of Asian American students. Thirty-seven percent of AI/AN students and 64% of Asian Americans received bachelor’s degrees within six years (NCES, 2005). The six-year graduation rate for AI/AN students who were freshmen at four-year institutions in 1999-2000 was 38.3% in comparison to 58.9% of White

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Table 5

Degree Attainment in 2002-2003 by Race/Ethnicity at Four and Six Years after Matriculation Degree

Attainment

All

G roups

American

Indian

Asian

American

Latina/os

African

American

White

Bachelor’s

(4 years)

34%

19%

39%

19%

19%

37%

Bachelor’s

(6 years)

56%

37%

64%

42%

40%

59%

graduates (Chronicle Almanac, 2007). Data is not readily available that describes AI/AN degree attainment after six years (Pavel, 2007, personal communication). Wells (1997) reported that the first year retention rate is 45% and the graduation rate for AI/AN students is 25%. Degree Attainment Data in Table 6 clearly provides evidence of how American Indians are not represented in the number of degrees conferred according to their proportionality within the U.S. population: 1.21% of the overall total earned associate’s degree, .72% earned bachelor’s degree, .57% earned master’s degree, .45% earned doctorate degree, and .646% earned professional degrees. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) reported that TCUs conferred 2,372 certificates and degrees in 2004: 569 certificates; 1,619 associate’s degree; 166 bachelor’s degrees; and 18 master’s degrees (AIHEC, 2006).

16

Table 6 Degrees Conferred to AI/AN Graduates in 2004-2005 in Comparison to Overall Attainment by Gender (NCES, 2006)

Full document contains 270 pages
Abstract: This qualitative study explored the academic and social experiences of 16 Northern Arapaho women who earned degrees from the University of Wyoming (UW) focusing upon how the forms of community cultural wealth of the Northern Arapaho Nation impacted their experiences. A qualitative research design, based on an interview study methodology, guided my process. Throughout data analysis, my theoretical perspective--encompassing Tribal Critical Race Theory and the concept of community cultural wealth from Critical Race--informed my practice. Counter-storytelling--showcasing the voices of the participants themselves--is the connection between theory and practice. The findings of this study contribute to our knowledge of American Indians/Alaskan Natives in higher education, including (a) the Northern Arapaho Nation has community cultural wealth comprised of various forms of cultural capital. The 16 women who participated in this study variously drew upon aspirational, familial, nation-building, navigational, and resistant cultural capital as they worked toward earning degrees at a predominantly White university; (b) McAfee's (1997; 2000) concept of "stepping out" is a much more useful concept to describe the trajectories of AI/AN students in higher education than the concepts of dropping or stopping out; (c) the findings of this research support Waterman's (2004; 2007) assertion that a theory of student integration in higher education (Tinto, 1993) is not appropriately applicable to AI/AN students. The transculturation hypothesis (Huffman, 1999; 2001; 2008) is an alternative framework for understanding AI/AN students in higher education; (d) some of these Northern Arapaho embody transformational resistance as they gained skills and credentials from UW with which they are empowering their community now. I then offer implications for theory, practice, and research.