The goal of my study is to investigate how public schools approach the education of Native students in comparison to the methods used at Native American reservation schools. The purpose of this comparison is to see if there is a difference in how each school accommodates native students, and also to observe how/if they recognize native identity. To accomplish this I first summarize the findings of past literature on the topic, and divide the history of Native Americans into the Colonial, Federal and the Self-Determination eras. I briefly touch on the struggles many native students face, and I also explain various suggested approaches to native education. I layout a theoretical model that encompasses the theories of Bourdieu, Said, and Honneth; I go onto to elaborate how the model connects to native education. To collect the data I utilized ethnographic methods by conducting interviews with 7 individuals from Harbor Springs High School and the Saginaw Chippewa Academy in Michigan. I used the theoretical model to analyze the data. Overall, I found that identity proved to be vitally important in the academic success of Native American’s. Unfortunately, as indicated in both the literature and my findings, native students continue to struggle. I argue that to resolve the problems, schools need to take proactive steps to recognize the diverse cultural backgrounds of students. I found that both schools were attempting to do this, but greater strides in society as a whole need to take place.


Kardulias, P. Nicholas


Sociology and Anthropology


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Eleanor K. Tompkins