Date of Award

Fall 1996

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Shuter, Robert

Second Advisor

Turner, Lynn

Third Advisor

Garner, Ana


This thesis addresses how Native American identity is created, developed. and affirmed through communication. Native American identity is explored through Berger and Ludemann's (1966) social construction of reality theory and Hecht's (1993) identity theory. This is accomplished through examining: urbanization and its influence on Native Americans, the process of avowal (self-definition and description) and ascription (other oriented definition and description), Native American communication patterns, and the individual and communication. By focusing on avowal and ascription of Native Americans, one sees that these 8R the primary communicative processes through which identity is enacted. For many urban Native Americans, the struggle with identity begins when they 8R forced to work, socialize and live in two cultural worlds, white and Native American, each with its own style of communication. Native American portrayals 8R established through stories collected from interviews with Native Americans. Non-standardized interviewing was used with the participants. The interviews were extremely complex and powerful representations of the different identities and lives of Native Americans. Additionally, the interviews represented a unique form of a dialectical tension, a constant struggle, between the past and present, near destruction and survival, traditional and contemporary life. Native American identity is enduring yet changing, and from this reality for the Native American is created.