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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An innovative response to enhance Native American educational success and advancement in higher education Montes, Claudine A.

Abstract

This thesis argues the need for major change in higher education options currently available to Native American students in the United States. Universities and Tribal Colleges represent the most common choices that Native students opt for in seeking degrees in tertiary education. However, for the most part, Universities and Tribal Colleges are not working effectively enough to produce the levels of success that are significantly transforming of the wider social, economic and cultural crisis conditions within many Native American communities. This thesis will focus on how to develop a major transformation of the higher education sector generally, a focus which also positively includes the underdeveloped potential that lies within the Tribal Colleges and Native programs in various university sites. This thesis attempts to clarify what has gone wrong in the higher education of Native Americans and to propose a national, innovative strategy for intervention. Identifying what is problematic in existing approaches will build critical insights that will inform the new strategies for change. The overall argument is that new institutions which are more sensitive and responsive to Indigenous aspirations first and foremost need to be considered as a key in transforming Native American higher education performance. Rather than define absolutely all of the possible ingredients of what might be included in a new higher education model, this thesis works first to identify and aggregate a number of key barriers and constraints by collating different information streams. Once identified these critical elements, practices, values and structures that are deemed to be the major barriers to Native success are then used to inform the proposed new institutional framework. While a single institution model is ultimately proposed by this thesis, it should be regarded as ’an’ answer, not ’the’ answer. A broader intention of this thesis is to bring more focus to this area of concern and underdevelopment within Higher Education and suggest that there are different answers and possibilities (as the Maori examples have demonstrated) that are truly innovative, and which can profoundly impact Native American individual and community social, economic, cultural and political development and advancement.

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