Date of Award

Winter 1998

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Committee Director

Janis Sanchez

Committee Member

Barbara Winstead

Committee Member

W. Larry Ventis

Committee Member

John D. Ball


Despite conceptual support linking ethnic identity and psychological adjustment among Native Americans, empirical research examining this relationship remains limited. In light of recent developments in the area of ethnic identity research, including alternative conceptual models, improved methodologies, and more sophisticated measures, this study examined the relationship between ethnic identity, self-esteem, emotional well-being, and depression among Native American reservation youth.

The relationship between the predictor variables of American Indian ethnic identity, White-American identity and bicultural identity, and the criterion measures of self-esteem, emotional well-being, and depression were examined for 137 Lakota/Dakota Sioux reservation youth. Participants completed surveys including the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM; Phinney, 1992) and the Acculturation Questionnaire-Adolescent Version (AQA; Doerner, 1995) as well as demographic information and measures of psychological health.

Findings from a series of hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that American Indian ethnic identification, White American identification, as well as the interaction of these scores, did not significantly contribute to the variance for any of the criterion variables above that accounted for by age and gender. For the MEIM and OGA, the MEIM accounted for a significant amount of variance for both the criterion variables of self-esteem and emotional well-being, but did not significantly contribute any unique variance for depression. The OGA, or the interaction term (MEIM X OGA), did not significantly contributed any unique variance for any of the criterion variables.

Results support adequate psychometric properties for both measures of ethnic identity with Lakota/Dakota Sioux youth. Ethnic identity appears to be a multifaceted construct. The results support the complex relationship between age, gender and ethnic identity, in contributing to the psychological adjustment for American Indian youth. Sample and methodological limitations of the current study, as well as implications and directions for future research are discussed. Finally, considerations regarding measures of psychological functioning as well as the unique challenges of cross-cultural research are reviewed.


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.


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