Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies


Holistic Health

First Advisor

Carol Geisler


Holistic Health Studies


Few existing studies examine resilience in youth by exploring the perspectives of the youth themselves. Research suggests that resilience is culturally contextual and that it is essential to include youth viewpoints when constructing an understanding of resilience. Native American youth are underrepresented in youth resilience studies. For this study, we use an arts informed method to explore resilience among Native American youth. An arts informed method provides for gathering of subjective, intuitive participant perceptions, which aligns with our phenomenological and Indigenous research cultures of inquiry. Participants took photos of that which they perceived to give them strength (“resilience” code-switched for youth) and included explanatory narratives of the photos. We thematically analyzed the photo and narrative data and found themes of family connectedness, cultural identity, self-expression through the arts, and intergenerational role modeling. Native American youth experience emotional support from family and strength in their Native American identity. Self-expression through art and music serves as both a process in which they find strength, as well as a means of expressing personal and cultural identity and connecting with nature. Intergenerational role modeling underscores the strength they feel not only in learning from their elders, but also in setting an example for younger family members. Based on our findings, health, community and educational settings could build Native American youth resilience capacity and opportunity by including family, Native American culture, the arts, and mentor/mentee relationships in their strategies, programming and delivery. Further research should seek to expand and deepen Native American youth perspectives on resilience as well as those of youth that identify with other cultures.

Available for download on Friday, May 17, 2024