All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Retta Evans

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


CULTURAL CONNECTEDNESS AND NATIVE AMERICAN MENTAL HEALTH SHARYN W. HILLIN EDUCATIONAL STUDIES IN DIVERSE POPULATIONS ABSTRACT Recent research has indicated a possible connection between the destruction of Native American culture and communities and mental health disparities among Native Americans in the United States. While numerous studies have been conducted among Native Americans in western regions of the United States that establish a relationship between cultural connectedness and mental health resiliency, no such relationship has been investigated in the southeastern region of the United States, particularly within the state of Alabama. Using a blended ethnographic phenomenological methodology, ten Poarch-Creek Indians in Alabama were interviewed to examine their experiences of living away from reservation land, separated from their Native culture and community. This study sought to explore the impact of this separation and the possible relationship between mental health resilience and cultural connectedness. Through analysis of the data collected, six themes emerged—four having a negative impact on mental health: “Different” Treatment, Walking in Two Worlds, Difficulty in Relationships, Sense of Loss, and two having a positive or protective impact on mental health: Native Beliefs and Connection to Culture. Themes can be organized into a conceptual model depicting the overall impact of historical oppression on mental health, as well as protective factors related to the Native experience and resilience.

Included in

Education Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.