Native American Women in Faculty Positions at Tribal Colleges

Degree Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Barbara Wissink

Second Advisor

Joanna Tzenis

Third Advisor

Laura Wangsness Willemsen


This qualitative, phenomenologically informed study examined the low representation of Native America women in tribal college faculty positions in the state of North Dakota. Six successful Native American women in faculty positions at tribal colleges in North Dakota were interviewed to understand reasons for a scarcity of Native women at tribal colleges and to identify strategies to mitigate this critical issue in higher education. The interviews, consisting of closed and open-ended questions, allowed me to investigate these women’s experiences both as students that led them to their professional careers as well as their experiences as faculty members at tribal colleges. Study results indicated that participants experienced implicit bias in school; they had a sense of feeling alone at non-tribal institutions; they valued tribal colleges; their Native students were a primary source of inspiration because as students they didn't have representation; they needed family support while they were in school; they expressed a need to feel valued at the tribal colleges where they worked; and they desired mentoring in school and in the workplace. These findings have implications for strategies to support Native students as well as faculty members and indicate a need to further investigate this issue in future research.

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