About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5174-5183
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain

CULTURAL VISIONS, PERSONAL JOURNEYS: AMERICAN INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES

T. Huffman

George Fox University (UNITED STATES)
In the space of a few days, two American Indian college students were interviewed by the author. The two individuals were strikingly similar. They were virtually the same in regards to their personal backgrounds, age, gender, academic potential and they shared a similar cultural orientation. Both were from South Dakota’s Cheyenne River reservation, men in their early twenties, they were bright, articulate, each demonstrating promising academic capability. What is more, both young men were Miniconjou of the Lakota who strongly valued the Native traditionalism of their people. Yet, within a week following the first interview, one young man had left school and returned to his home reservation while the other young man remained in college and would eventually graduate.
It was a pattern that was to persist throughout the five years of the research reported in this paper. The culturally traditional American Indian college students divided into two groups largely based on the manner in which they responded to the cultural difficulties they encountered in college. There were those who perceived the costs associated with staying in college as too high and choose to leave school. Remaining in college for many of these students meant that there was a significant chance they would lose their cultural identity. It was a risk many were not willing to take. Yet, there were also those who used their cultural identity as a means to anchor their sense of purpose and they drew strength from it as a way to persevere in college.
This paper explores the college experiences of culturally traditional American Indian college students who participated in a five year study on the nature of their higher educational experiences. Contained in this analysis is the examination of the dilemmas and difficult choices they faced. The culturally traditional American Indian students who participated in this research choose different courses of action in their college encounters. Some decided to exit school while others remained on campus. Yet, almost ironically, ultimately they also held similar cultural objectives, both groups sought to retain and preserve their cultural identity. Emerging from the project was the question, why did these students, who shared such powerful goals, divide into two distinct groups?
The author examines the contrasting experiences between these two types of culturally traditional American Indian college students and offers theoretical frameworks to account for the experiences of each group. Additionally, the paper discusses the practical implications emerging from the findings of the research. Namely, the paper will offer policy and pedagogical suggestions for making the predominately non-Indian campus more accommodating for American Indian students.
@InProceedings{HUFFMAN2009CUL,
author = {Huffman, T.},
title = {CULTURAL VISIONS, PERSONAL JOURNEYS: AMERICAN INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {5174-5183}}
TY - CONF
AU - T. Huffman
TI - CULTURAL VISIONS, PERSONAL JOURNEYS: AMERICAN INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 5174
EP - 5183
ER -
T. Huffman (2009) CULTURAL VISIONS, PERSONAL JOURNEYS: AMERICAN INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES, ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 5174-5183.
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