Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Gary Howell, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Patricia Dixon, Psy.D.

Third Advisor

Kristie Knows His Gun, Psy.D., ABPP-CP


Strong ethnic identity is associated with overall well-being, resilience to change, and higher self-esteem (Kiang et al., 2006; Martinez & Dukes, 1997; Umaña-Taylor, 2003; Yip & Fuligni, 2002) and serves as a protective factor against the stress associated with discrimination (Alvarez & Kimura, 2001; Phinney et al., 1998). Given the historical and systemic barriers faced by the Native American and Alaska Native population, including the history of genocide, colonization, and intergenerational trauma, the development of a strong Indigenous ethnic identity is a necessary area of research focus. Specifically, Native American and Alaska native individuals are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than any other ethnic group, a number that has gradually been increasing since 2003 (Leavitt et al., 2018), with 26% of all completed suicides occur between the ages of 18-24 (CDC, 2018). Patterns of high suicide risk align with Newman and Newman’s (2018) Early and Later Adolescence developmental stage, during which individuals are seeking to manage the psychosocial crisis of individual and group identity versus alienation and identity confusion. Such findings support the value of research emphasis on the concept of Indigenous identity as a protective factor among Indigenous communities. This project utilized Indigenous sources of scholarship to explore the concept of Indigenous identity development through three research questions: 1. What is the impact of colonization on Native Americans and Alaska Natives? 2. How does marginalization impact identity development among Native Americans and Alaska Natives? and 3. What factors contribute to identity development among Native Americans and Alaska Natives? Five themes are identified as the foundation for future research exploration, and clinical implications are provided.