Psychological research has demonstrated that Native peoples engage with shared meanings of cultural phenomena in their environments when forming their identities. These are referred to as cultural representations and are critical for Native peoples to form a coherent and meaningful sense of self. To date, empirical studies on cultural representations use experimental methods to measure the effect of media representations on identity-related outcomes among Native adolescents from reservations and in academic settings. These studies take a top-down approach that neglects the range of cultural representations and the intrapsychic processes Native peoples use to engage with them during identity formation, as well as well-known constructs from cultural psychology that have implications for individuals’ identities. The present study addresses these limitations through a bottom-up approach using narrative and digital storytelling strategies to answer the following research questions: 1) What cultural representations are present in narratives of urban Native peoples? 2) How do urban Native peoples internalize and resist the aforementioned cultural representations? And 3) How do well-known cultural psychology constructs relate to these cultural representations and narrative processes? To answer these questions, participants (n = 73) completed a questionnaire of cultural psychology constructs and open-ended story prompts, and attended a one-day workshop to create a digital story. For Research Question 1, thematic analysis was used to examine the content of the historical and cultural representations in Native peoples’ environments from their digital story narratives. To address Research Question 2, digital story narratives were examined for narrative processes to determine how Native peoples’ internalized and negotiated with historical and cultural representations when forming their identities. For Research Question 3, associations between historical and cultural representations, narrative processes, and well-known cultural psychology constructs were examined through correlations, independent samples t-tests, and chi-square analyses to further contextualize the findings. Results provide rich and descriptive information about historical and cultural representations salient to Native peoples’ identity development, which are discussed through Story Profiles. Implications for Native peoples as active co-constructors of their identities are discussed in relation to the current literature.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2020. Major: Psychology. Advisor: Moin Syed. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 430 pages.
Systems of Cultural Representation: An Examination of Native American Identity and Cultural Representations Through Digital Stories.
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