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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Understanding Navajo ethnic identity: weaving the meaning through the voices of young girls.

Author: Goodluck, C.T.
Author Background:
Date 8/1/98
Type Dissertation
Journal Title:
Volume/Pages 35(2), 1999, No. 1020
Subject Matter Native Americans
Abstract The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the meaning of ethnic identity of Navajo girls from a qualitative phenomenological approach. The sample consisted of 20 girls, between nine and 15 years old living in northern Arizona.The data collection included interviewing, participant observation, and prolonged engagement. Demographic and grand tour questionnaires were completed. The data was analyzed using a qualitative computer softwarepackage. The method of analysis consisted of categorizing the data into codes, categories, sub-categories, and themes. Major themes included: (1) personal identity; (2) ethnic identity; (3) tribal identity; and (4) moving between worlds.Metaphors used--weaving (integration), pottery (development), dance (collective identity), and corn pollen journey (tribal and spiritual)--were identified. Beauty, humor, balance, and being human were key elements fromtheir stories. The Hozho System for Navajo Girls Ethnic Identity Model was generated as a new theory. Implications for social work practice, assessment, intervention, and education are discussed.