Exploring Indigenous Identities of Urban American Indian Youth of the Southwest

Stephen Kulis, M. Alex Wagaman, Crescentia Tso, Eddie F. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study examined the indigenous identities of urban American Indian youth using measures related to three theoretical dimensions of Markstrom's identity model: identification (tribal and ethnic heritage), connection (reservation ties), and involvement in traditional cultural practices and spirituality. Data came from self-administered questionnaires completed by 142 urban American Indian middle school students in a southwestern metropolitan area with the largest urban American Indian population in the United States. Using both quantitative and qualitative measures, descriptive statistics showed most youth were connected to all three dimensions of indigenous identity. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that youth with the strongest sense of American Indian ethnic identity had native fathers and were heavily involved in traditional cultural practices and spirituality. Although urban American Indians may face challenges in maintaining their tribal identities, the youth in this study appeared strongly moored to their native indigenous heritage. Implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-298
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • American Indian
  • adolescents
  • ethnic identity
  • identity
  • indigenous
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring Indigenous Identities of Urban American Indian Youth of the Southwest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this