Date of Conferral







Barry Linden


Native Americans experience a higher rate of homicide, suicide, and injury, on average, than do others in the United States. There has been little research, however, on turning point and epiphany experiences as factors that contribute to resilience in Native Americans. The purpose of this study was to add to this body of knowledge, and promote social change such as greater engagement and dialogue within Native American communities. The theory that informed the study was resilience theory. Two questions were answered: (a) the ways in which turning point life experiences have correlated with resilience in Native American individuals, and (b) the manner in which characteristics (e.g., gender, age, socioeconomic status, spirituality, disability, and sexual orientation) are influential with respect to the turning point experiences that Native Americans report relative to resilience. Inclusionary criteria were purposefully broad in order to encourage participation in the process. Narratives were invited that detailed life histories, for a psychological study. Snowball methodology was also employed in an area where census records indicated that Native Americans resided, resulting in a sample of 4 adult individuals (2 men and 2 women) of Native American descent. Data from the autobiographical narratives were analyzed for themes. These participants experienced a pivotal experience or group of experiences that led them to engage in behavior that produced beneficial results impacting career prospects and producing subjective life satisfaction. Findings support the theory that certain turning point experiences (specifically, interactions with supportive family and community members) enhance resilience in Native American individuals.