Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Donna Graham


Very few high school graduates from the White Mountain Apache Reservation go on to college, and it is not known what perceptions may contribute to a decision not to attend college. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study is to investigate these perceptions, including cultural values and family obligations. The framework of this study is founded on Tribal Critical Race Theory, also known as TribalCrit, which came out of Critical Race Theory (CRT). TribalCrit posits that colonization (Western European peoples colonizing Native American lands and peoples) is endemic in society. Seventeen White Mountain Apache tribal members who had graduated from high school participated in semi-structured interviews and/or focus groups. Interviews, focus groups, and researcher notes were analyzed through coding and categorizing from transcripts, and themes were identified, which included: finances, paperwork, and transportation; family obligations; lack of educational expectations after high school graduation; alcohol and drugs; “being stuck” on the reservation; differences in Native American and Western European worldviews; and issues of historical trauma. Many White Mountain Apache tribal members have made the decision that remaining on the reservation is more important than the benefits of a post-secondary education. The outcome of this study was a project that would engage school employees in dialogues with different cultural worldviews to increase understanding of how different worldviews operate in an organization, particularly a school. Dialogues involving people with very different worldviews can have a positive impact on the organization, relationships of employees, and especially the people the organization serves, students who receive an education from these employees.