Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The paradox of respect and risk: Six Lakota adolescents speak
by Isaacson, Mary J., Ph.D., Indiana University, 2009, 209; 3358980
Abstract (Summary)

Adolescence is a time of turbulence as young people stretch parental boundaries, seeking where they fit in society. For many American Indian adolescents this time involves the initiation of dangerous high-risk behaviors. Potential causes posed for this are: loss of identity, loss of cultural values and traditions, lack of positive role modeling and feelings of hopelessness. Survey research has been the predominant method of data collection. Very few studies of Native American youth use storytelling, even though stories are a part of many Indian cultures.

The primary purpose of this study was to describe the phenomena of respect and risk from the viewpoint of the Lakota adolescent. I employed hermeneutic phenomenology with photography to help the adolescents illuminate these somewhat abstract concepts. I recruited participants from a single reservation on the Northern Plains. I collected data through non-structured interviews and participant observation. I analyzed the data using hermeneutic phenomenology based on Gadamer. Ecological systems theory provided a framework to assist me in understanding the multiple dimensions present in the adolescents’ stories.

The phenomena of respect and risk from the perspective of these Lakota adolescents revealed a paradox. Each can be either positive or negative, depending upon the circumstances or the context of the situation. This paradox became the pattern among the participants. The pattern is the rock (inyan ) and the wind (tate). The rock and the wind are deeply interconnected, and the influence of one may impact the other. Three themes emerged from this pattern: role modeling (positive or negative), identity, and feeling valued. These themes are consistent with current research regarding adolescent high-risk behaviors. These stories are significant in that they are personal accounts by these adolescents.

This study has implications in nursing education, nursing practice, and health policy. Nursing education must attend to teaching students to listen and to become comfortable working with other cultures. As nurses advocate for future programming, it is essential that the research that guides the policies and programming be community-based action research. As society becomes more diverse, nursing must embrace many perspectives, helping all to achieve the highest quality of health and well-being.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Swenson, Melinda M.
Commitee: Russell, Kathleen M., Stiffler, Deborah, Zimmerman, Larry J.
School: Indiana University
Department: Nursing Science
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-B 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nursing, Native American studies
Keywords: Adolescents, American Indians, Culture, Lakota, Risk behaviors
Publication Number: 3358980
ISBN: 9781109184006
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