Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Ashley Dickinson


The disproportionate rates of violent crimes, historical oppression, and cultural assimilation disrupted the traditional practices and belief system within Alaskan Native communities, thus changing the influence of protective factors that support balance and equality for women. Identifying protective factors provided by cultural practices that support resiliency provides an increased understanding of how cultural strengths can combat distorted stereotypes within the criminal justice system. This study included characteristics of a phenomenological, narrative, and ethnographic study. The social constructionist framework and the social construction of target populations theory was used to explore how traditional cultural practices can influence the current gender identity, racial identity, and social status of Alaskan Native women. Seven Tribal elders and/or leaders, who actively engage in Iñupiaq and Yupik cultural practices, participated in individual interviews and the photovoice method to share their experiences and perspectives. The data were analyzed and coded to develop five primary themes: a) Generational Learning, b) Survival, c) Spiritual, d) Identity and e) The Experience. The results of this study highlighted the ways Iñupiaq and Yupik cultural practices provide the foundation for resiliency and natural protective factors for Alaskan Native women, that can challenge the negative stereotypes within the criminal justice system. Thus, creating an opportunity to generate policy decisions to increase awareness and safety and address the current structural and institutional biases within the criminal justice system, at a local and regional level leading to positive social change.