Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Chair

Don Robson

Commitee Members

Roberta Evans, William McCaw, Kathryn Shanley, Darrell Stolle


community, democracy, morality, nation state, Native, self-determination


University of Montana


This critical ethnography is a study of how the interfaces between Western educational structures and Native cultural structures function in the daily operations of a privately owned school in a Native community, how these functions have evolved, drawbacks and strengths of both Western and Native cultural structures, and current challenges in relating to the mixtures of philosophy, value systems and socialization expectations of these systems.

The review of literature exposed a variety of assumptions regarding individualism, bureaucratization, homogenization, universalism, meritocracy, and rationalization reflected in Western educational structures. The study done at Valley Grove Mission School illuminated the assumptions and expectations for educational processes of the surrounding Native community which at times reflected Western values, but at other times were very different.

The Native community in Valley Grove demonstrated a value for democracy, individualism, and efficient bureaucracies. To some degree the Native community under study recognized and appreciated the fairness and order that these elements of structure sought to bring to decision-making. However, the Native community prioritized long-term relationships nurtured through visiting and localized events that capitalized on community interaction. Self-determination was important: Native leadership emphasized their role in sharing Native ways of knowing and cultural meaning in order to develop cultural bridges between the Native and modern worlds for Native students. Rather than long-term professional training programs at distant schools, participants in the study deemed short-term, practical, apprentice-style trainings in local fields more useful as tools for developing Native leadership in Native communities.



© Copyright 2009 Cheryl L. Woolsey Des Jarlais