Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Chair

John Matt

Commitee Members

William McCaw, Patricia Kero McPherson, Frances O'Reilly, Joseph McDonald, Darrell Stolle


Indian Pre-Service teachers, Native American teachers, Phenomenological study, Teacher Preparation, Indian Education, Tribal Colleges


University of Montana


In Montana, less than 3% of K-12 teachers are American Indian (Montana Office of Public Instruction, 2009). The lack of Indian teachers, which was the problem identified for this dissertation, is of great concern to educational leaders. The shortage of Native American teachers can be correlated to problems in the education of K-12 students (Reyhner & Eder, 2004) as evident in the data on achievement gaps, dropout rates and participation in higher education. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of tribal college leaders in preparing Indian pre-service teachers through the lens of the phenomenon of shortages of Indian teachers. It was hoped that such descriptions could inform educational leaders on possible, efficacious means to increasing the number of highly qualified Indian teachers in Montana.

The themes that emerged within the research constructs that framed the study were:

1. Education as a moral obligation and legal imperative

Being prepared and welcomed

Teacher pay is an issue

2. Indian education by American Indians

Traditional practices: it's about the students

Our students have many strengths

3. Assimilation and the historical impacts of Indian education

We know the history, but now what

Living in two worlds? It's personal

4. Partnerships, networking and relationships

Partnerships: purposeful or convenient

We are kinda weak on data

Where are the support and leadership

The results of this study suggested that (a) there still exists a need among various educational entities to recognize the value of Indian teachers and to allocate financial support for this valued resource through teaching salaries, and various forms of postsecondary aid; (b) tribal colleges do not typically receive adequate funding or state support for their teacher education programs; (c) there is a perception that Indian teacher candidates are not always welcomed into schools for field work; (d) there is a need for leadership and data from multiple sources to support tribal colleges in preparing Indian teachers; and (e) tribal college teacher preparation programs often work with limited partnerships that are mainly based on convenience. Ongoing work to address Indian teacher shortages may keep the state's attention focused on its most serious educational need, improving the quality of American Indian education.



© Copyright 2010 Cynthia Gail O'Dell