Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

David Schuldberg


American Indians, culture, trauma


University of Montana


This paper reviews recent research findings and empirically investigates resiliency and vulnerability factors within two Native American communities. The primary factors under consideration are related to American Indian psychosocial factors. This project is an exploratory investigation of pathology and wellness for understudied American Indians, and it examines the nature of resiliency and risk for American Indians. The factors under investigation include adversarial growth, spirituality, ethnic identity, communal identity, social support, historical trauma, stressors experienced, hope, quality of life, and general psychological status for American Indians sampled. Numerous statistically significant relationships emerged, providing empirical support for culturally embedded aspects of resiliency among American Indians. The most salient resiliency factors for Native American/American Indians, in order of statistical significance, were: social support, hope, general resilient coping abilities, traditional cultural and spiritual practices, ethnic pride/enculturation, and communal mastery.

Higher levels of protective factors were associated with higher levels of adversarial growth and lower levels of reported unpleasant affect, affective Historical Loss, and scores on psychological distress. Hope scores, Brief Resiliency Coping scores, and Communal Mastery were each found to predict significant proportions of variance in adversarial growth scores, and significant relationships were found to exist between the observed protective factors. Hope, Social Support, Communal Mastery, and Enculturation were found to moderate the relationship between the experience of stressful life events and Adversarial Growth, Psychological Distress indicators, and Quality of Life Ratings. Due to the large amount of significant results observed, exploratory factor analyses were conducted and scales based on these analyses were used in linear regression models. Enculturation, tribal spirituality and participation, as well as Communal Mastery were all found to be cultural factors that predicted significant amounts of the variance in each of the combined dependent variable estimates. Qualitative information regarding resiliency within these communities was also collected, and it provided a powerful portrayal of "Reziliency" or resiliency among American Indians.



© Copyright 2007 Annjeanette Elise Belcourt-Dittloff