Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Glena Andrews, PhD

Second Advisor

Kristie Knows His Gun, PsyD

Third Advisor

Ryan Cox MA


American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities face unique issues due to historical and continued colonization, genocide, and forced assimilation (Stumblingbear-Riddle & Romans, 2012). AI/AN youth must address intergenerational trauma related to high rates of adverse childhood life events (Duran, 2006, Waller et al. 2002). Native American youth have the challenge of balancing their individual traditional culture with mainstream culture (Waller et al., 2002). Sports are one way that AI/AN communities are able to express themselves (Bloom, 2000). Participation in high school sports has been associated with various academic and social benefits (Fredricks & Eccles, 2006). Identifying the coping skills and support systems AI/AN youth use is imperative in order to allow the community to flourish. This study aimed to explore sports as a resilience factor for AI/AN high school students at an American AI/AN boarding school where 185 enrolled students were surveyed. Information was gathered on childhood adversities using the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey (ACES). The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) was used to measure student’s ability to withstand adversity. There was no correlation between childhood adversities and resilience for this sample which is consistent with previous findings of adversity and resilience in the AI/AN population (Knows His Gun, 2013). There was a small effect for resilience in those who participated in both formal and recreational sports compared to those who did not participate in sports. For students with either a high or low ACES score, there was a large effect size for resilience when they participated in formal and recreational sports compared to non-participating counterparts. It is essential for sports programs in boarding schools and reservations to continue to be accessible to youth as they grow a vital resilience factor.

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Psychology Commons