Making Meaning of Urban American Indian Identity: A Multistage Integrative Processedit
The cultural identity and tribal connectedness of American Indians are commonly believed to have been negatively affected by the urbanization process in which American Indians have been involved during the past half century. This phenomenological study examined the processes through which cultural identity was formed and maintained by a group of American Indians who had lived since childhood in urban areas, away from their reservations or tribal communities. Seven urban Indian adults, each from a different tribe, shared their experiences related to coming to understand what it means to be American Indian and the development of their American Indian cultural identity. Four themes emerged from participant interviews and were seen to correspond to stages that participants passed through, from their teens through their 30s, that led to understanding and integration of their American Indian identity. Findings point to the importance of considering issues of cultural identity development when providing social work services to urban American Indian young adults.