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88 c h a p t e r 7 Predictors for American Indian/Alaska Native Student Leadership Theresa Jean Stewart (San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, Gabrieliño/Tongva) During the first year of my doctoral program, I faced the onslaught of core courses essential to partially satisfying my degree requirements. The goal of program requirements was to prepare students for the field of higher education—­ equipping us with foundational knowledge from the field, as well as research training. Like other Native graduate students, this year forced me to confront the dehumanizing nature of education and question my place in academia . I was fortunate, however, to be uniquely positioned at an institution that rested squarely within my ancestral homelands; an institution that was also my academic and professional home for nearly ten years. These connections gave me strength. Ever present, the relationships that I fostered with the land, local tribes, and on-­campus community were a constant challenge in my thinking as a Native researcher in higher education. The greatest obstacle that I encountered during this time was navigating research methodologies. Independently, I decided to enroll in a healthy balance of qualitative and quantitative courses—­determined to develop a base knowledge in both methods. However, I struggled immensely in quantitative methods the entire year. Progressing to more advanced quantitative methodologies courses, I continued to have difficulty. As a Native woman, working with quantitative data felt incredibly impersonal. And, while qualitative research became increasingly instinctual, my mastery of quantitative methods grew more and more foreign. Pushing against my instincts to forego any further empirical research courses, I enrolled in Computer Analysis of Empirical Data in Education during the spring quarter. The objective of the course was to conduct an original Predictors for Student Leadership 89 study using a large-­ scale longitudinal dataset from the UCLA Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), which is the foundation of this chapter. The first few weeks of the quarter were painful, but I persevered by drawing on my relationships. Fortunately,theprofessorandteachingassistantwereincredibleallies—­always ensuring I understood the material. Early in the quarter, we discovered that the class dataset did not have a representative sample of American Indian students to conduct an adequate study. The professor, who was extremely supportive of my passion to work with American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) communities , provided me with a unique dataset that ensured I could conduct a study on American Indian students. This led to my first major breakthrough in quantitative research. From there, I pushed the traditional boundaries of quantitative research to conceptualize a study that coincided with my worldview as a Native woman. This chapter reviews a longitudinal study that was conducted during the first year of my doctoral program. More importantly, woven throughout the chapter I have provided my perspective, rationale, and thinking while conceptualizing the study design, selecting the theoretical framework, and examining results—­giving insight on how quantitative research can be shaped by an Indigenous worldview and demonstrating the necessity of reclaiming Indigenous research in higher education. Problem Statement and Research Questions When thinking about research, I reflect on my reason for pursuing graduate studies—­to ensure the prosperity of our tribal communities. Contextualizing the state of Indian education and tribal communities can be worrisome. American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) students account for less than 1% of the college student population (Shotton, Lowe, & Waterman, 2013). Moreover, the national six-­ year graduation rate for AIANs is 39.4% for first-­ time, full-­ time freshmen at four-­ year institutions (IPEDS, 2012). This rate continues to be the lowest in the country, and equally concerning when reflecting on the evolving state of tribes across the United States. Many Native scholars contend, and I would agree, that educational attainment is a critical component of the future of tribal communities , with AIAN students playing a pivotal role in protection and strengthening tribal sovereignty, self-­ determination, and self-­ reliance (Brayboy, Fann, Castagno , & Solyom, 2012; Shotton et al., 2013). The increasing social, political, and, in many places, economic pressures facing tribes today forces them to rely on human capital. This places many tribes and tribal organizations in precarious situations—­ venturing outside of their communities for support. My intention is not to critique tribal administrative decisions or AIAN academic achievement. Rather, my intention is to illuminate 90 Theresa Jean Stewart a real issue impacting the future of tribal communities—­ the readiness of Native people to lead tribal communities. If we aspire, as Native people, to advance the building of tribal nations (i.e...


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