Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Killacky, C. James; Del Favero, Marietta

Second Advisor

Bedford, April


The purpose of this dissertation was to capture the voice of the Louisiana Native American students who attend Louisiana institutions of higher education. Native Americans are the least represented minority in colleges. More have entered college in recent years, yet they continue to leave college at a high rate. It is important to understand what motivates Native students to attend college and what keeps them in college. When an understanding of their persistence is achieved, strategies can be implemented to assist others. Research questions that prompted inquiry relate to a Louisiana Native American perspective. All of the research questions ask about the higher education experience and support the primary question: How can the higher education experiences of Native Americans be explained in models of persistence? This dissertation reviews the literature concerning persistence and departure of minority students. Development of ethnic identity is reviewed. The focus of this phenomenological qualitative research study was to examine the experiences of Native Americans during their collegiate journey. Twelve Native American students who attend five institutions of higher education in southern Louisiana were interviewed with open ended questions about their college experiences. Three participants were male and nine were female. Three tribal groups were represented: Choctaw-Apache, Coushatta and the United Houma Nation. Responses have been analyzed using the cultural model presented by Guiffrida (2006) and support the need for a cultural perspective, with the addition of the tribe as an influence. Students were satisfied overall with their experiences. Instances of stereotyping were present that made some students uncomfortable. Intrinsic motivation focused on competency and was frequently coupled with the sense of belonging. Extrinsic motivation came from tribal educational values which provided the cultural capital to pursue a degree. Intended application of the degree was most frequently tied back to the Indian community. Tribal influence was present from intention through to application of the degree. The responses of the participants in this study support a bicultural level and strong enculturation. A model of enculturation is proposed to address the participants' responses.


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