Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Education (EdD)



Committee Chair(s)

Janice L. Hall


Janice L. Hall


Gary Carlston


Jan Roush


Jim Barta


Lisa Pray


The purpose of this foundational study was to explore the factors that contributed to developing teacher identity among new American Indian teachers. Multifaceted research into the history of American Indian education, the design of American Indian teacher training programs, and the beliefs and experiences of four American Indian secondary teachers gave this study a richly detailed context.

Three overarching patterns emerged during the process of analyzing the data: (a) solidarity and independence, (b) habit and change, and (c) tradition and invention. From these patterns, six factors were identified as contributing to developing teacher identity. School-based experiences that affected developing teacher identity included cohort-based peer support, preparation for content area expertise, and teachers as role models. Personal, home, and community beliefs that affected developing teacher identity were as follows: giving back to American Indian communities, serving American Indian students, and becoming empowered as American Indian teachers.

Participants in this study represented various tribe affiliations but were all registered students in the Ute Teacher Training Program from 2002 to 2005. The goal of this program, administrated by the Ute Tribe, was to mentor, train, and certify American Indian secondary teachers through an ongoing university education program offered at a rural location close to the Ute reservation. Recommendations in the final chapter of this qualitative case study may provide useful information for the design and implementation of future American Indian teacher education programs.