UAS Education Faculty Angela Lunda Successfully Defends Dissertation on Cultural Identity Development
Lunda’s dissertation, titled, “I’m a killer whale: The process of cultural identity development from the perspectives of young Indigenous children,” was presented September 14.
Date of Press Release: October 21, 2022
University of Alaska Southeast Education faculty Angela Lunda has recently been awarded her Doctor of Philosophy in Indigenous Studies by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Lunda’s dissertation, titled, “I’m a killer whale: The process of cultural identity development from the perspectives of young Indigenous children,” was presented September 14. The dissertation co-chairs were UAF professor Dr. Theresa John and South Dakota State University professor Dr. Carie Green.
Dr. Lunda’s dissertation was a qualitative single case study that examined the phenomenon of cultural identity development from the perspectives of young Indigenous children situated within the context of their southeast Alaskan community. She examined how Indigenous children demonstrate cultural identity through their interaction with the Land. She also looked at community organizations’ support of culture identity development in young Indigenous children, as well as the roles of peers, teachers, and family in this development.
The primary data source was video collected by children as they engaged in semi-structured activities on the land while wearing forehead cameras. Video data was augmented by family surveys, interviews with parents and educators, children’s drawings, and careful observations. These methods allowed the researcher to examine the child’s lived experiences to begin to untangle the rich interactions between children, the Land, parents, and educators, and to describe nurturing factors related to cultural identity development.
The study found that Indigenous children revealed their developing sense of identity by demonstrating knowledge of the Land, subsistence practices, and core cultural values. Additionally, Lunda’s research revealed that communities may support children’s cultural identity development through vision and funding for cultural initiatives. Another key finding of Lunda’s research was that peers, parents, and educators play an important role in the cultural identity development of young children by enacting moves to increase confidence and competence on the Land.
Dr. Lunda noted, “This study has implications for policymakers, educators, families, and others interested in nurturing healthy identity development among young Indigenous children.”
At the University of Alaska Southeast, Dr. Angela Lunda supervises students in the secondary Master of Arts in Teaching program and is the co-Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation grant, in partnership with GBH Public Media, examining children’s relationship with the Land and the development of values related to environmental stewardship.
Ronalda Cadiente Brown remarked, “We celebrate Angie and her many contributions to the field of education. This accomplishment is the culmination of a vision to give back in meaningful ways by opening doors for future inquiry. The PITAAS Program support of Angie was an honor and we look forward to ongoing standards of excellence and an exciting future of collaboration.” Cadiente Brown is the UAS Associate Vice Chancellor for Alaska Native Programs and the Director of the PITAAS Program (Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska’s Schools).
UAS Provost Maren Haavig added, “I share with others when I congratulate Dr. Lunda on her remarkable achievement. I appreciate her persistence and hard work to reach this monumental goal. We are very fortunate to have Angie continue her National Science Foundation grant work on the Molly of Denali Community Science Project through our School of Education.”
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