Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Richard Sattler

Commitee Members

Gregory R. Campbell, Kelly Dixon, David Beck, Richmond Clow


American Indian religion, Chicago American Indians, Ethnic Identity, transactionalism, tribal identity, urban American Indians


University of Montana


The following dissertation is an ethnographic community study focusing on religiosity and its relationship in maintaining tribal identity among urban Indians living in Chicago, Illinois. The research examines spirituality and religious practice in an urban Indian community and illuminates and examines how people conceptualize the sacred and how it applies to their sense of tribal, familial, and individual identities and its development through a lifetime. The goals of this research are to: 1) provide an overview of religiosity as it currently exists within the American Indian community of Chicago; and 2) examine religion and spirituality as is develops over time utilizing an inter-generational perspective to gain insight into this process.

The research approaches religion and spirituality as an aspect of ethnic or group identity and its role in maintaining tribal identity. The goal of this approach is to illuminate the nature of religion; its existance in the daily lives of community members; how it maintains tribal ethnic identity; its manifestations within community relations and the urban landscape; and how it links multiple generations, along with reservation and urban communities.

This dissertation provides an account of religious views and beliefs in the Chicago American Indian community through the examination of current religious beliefs and practices and their relationships to the maintenance of tribal identity in a multi-tribal community. Most importantly, it reveals American Indian concepts of spirituality and ceremonialism within an urban Indian community from a community perspective.



© Copyright 2011 Eli Steven Suzukovich III