Explicating the Role of Higher Education in Native Nation-building

What is the relationship between the educational outcomes of American Indian youth and Native nation-building? How can higher education fortify Indigenous futures?

In this three-phase study, Stewart-Ambo will explore the relationship between the educational outcomes of American Indian youth and Native nation-building and how higher education can fortify Indigenous futures. American Indian tribes in the U.S. use the term Native nation-building to describe efforts to build internal capacities that realize cultural, educational, economic, environmental, and political objectives through tribal design and initiation. This study applies a comparative case study design across the three university settings. Phase 1 involves analyzing the content of the secondary datasets to develop an inventory of practices that address the educational needs of Indigenous youth. Phase 2 uses interviews and focus groups with Indigenous students to understand how systemic racism embedded within curricular, co-curricular, and campus activities affects their university experience. Phase 3 incorporates interviews with members of neighboring Native nations to understand their educational needs, as well as how tribes explain the ways higher education can advance nation-building. Stewart-Ambo will expand her expertise in settler colonialism theories and Tribal Critical Race Theory with the support of her two mentors, Eve Tuck, Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto and a former William T. Grant Scholar and Bryan Brayboy, President’s Professor of Indigenous Education and Justice in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University.

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