Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Education



Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Candis Best, Ph.D.

Content Specialist

Ruth Harper, Ph.D.

Content Reader

Ray Francis, Ed.D.


TCUs, PWIs, Natives, postsecondary education, TribalCrit


The purpose of this dissertation was to determine how Natives defined their experiences at both TCUs and PWIs. This study is one of the first to gather and analyze the narratives of Natives who have experienced both types of postsecondary education. How Native participants defined their experiences differed from the traditional definitions that have historically been used to dictate and define the frameworks for postsecondary education. The research design for this study is transcendental phenomenology and colonization did provide a necessary framework to compliment Tribal Critical Race Theory (TribalCrit). Five participants were interviewed and the following themes emerged from their narratives: TCUs positively impacted participants’ confidence; tribal community and Native identity were integral parts of the TCU experience; children and family presence at the TCUs was valued; participants’ transitions to the PWIs was impacted positively by their experience at the TCUs; racist interactions occurred at the PWIs; mentors made a positive impact at both TCUs and PWIs; resiliency was a key trait amongst the participants; urban, linear, and reservation Native students at PWIs introduced intra-Indian student conflict; Native based spaces and individuals made an impact on the participants sense of belonging at the PWIs; and perceptions of TCUs are inaccurate. The lived experiences of the participants who attended both types of postsecondary institutions proved to be very distinct. The participants articulated that their success at PWIs was because of the foundation the TCUs gave them to persist their time at PWIs.

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