Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Martin Vega

Reader 2

Erich Steinman

Reader 3

Azamat Junisbai

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© 2020 Carolann J Duro


Across Indian Country the current era has been described as an “Indigenous Renaissance” with more efforts put into revitalizing Indigenous languages than ever before. However, an overlooked segment of the Indigenous population are Indigenous college students and their relationship with Indigenous language acquisition. This prompts the question: what are the experiences of Indigenous college students learning their Indigenous languages? The importance of this research lies primarily in identifying the struggles and barriers that Native college students face when learning their language and the benefits they have experienced through the process. This research will also be conducted by a researcher who is an Indigenous student learning their Native language as well, providing an important perspective from this personal experience. We already know that Indigenous youth, primarily at the elementary level and younger, benefit greatly, for instance increased self-esteem, from learning their language. It has also been shown that when Indigenous youth study the language of their Indigenous community, it contributes to positive mental health and wellness. However, scholarship also shows that some students experience challenges in lack of social support, racism from outsiders, and lack of resources and funding for resources. This research used to address the question of Native college students who speak their language is a qualitative research method and consisting of nine in-depth interviews with Indigenous college students answering questions and prompts about their experience with learning their language. The data reveal that Indigenous youth experience great benefits such as increased self-esteem, adopting Indigenous worldviews, and learning knowledge about their history and the land their language is spoken on.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.