Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

Longerbeam, Susan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Washington, Ahmad

Committee Member

Washington, Ahmad

Committee Member

Hirschy, Amy

Committee Member

Lees, Anna

Author's Keywords

Lacrosse; Native; college; student; athlete


This dissertation is an examination of contemporary collegiate lacrosse as a symptom of settler colonialism and the experiences of Native lacrosse athletes at NCAA Division I historically white institutions. It begins with a brief historical overview of Native lacrosse and Native education through a lens of settler colonial theory and Tribal Critical Race Theory. It uses Critical Indigenous Research Methods to examine the experiences of contemporary Native collegiate lacrosse players and their journey towards critical self-authorship. The ultimate goal was to explore the extent to which Native lacrosse athletes felt they could show up as their authentic Native self in both their lacrosse programs and academic learning environments. Using the conversational method, participants shared stories about their experiences as collegiate Native lacrosse athletes. Findings addressed the experiences of collegiate Native lacrosse players at NCAA Division I historically white institutions. Each participant shared stories introducing their unique journey to becoming a collegiate Native lacrosse athlete. Subsequently, themes emerged across participant stories as they shared about experiences in their collegiate lacrosse program and learning environment. The stories and themes represent the journey towards critical self-authorship for these collegiate Native lacrosse athletes. The seven main themes are as follows, along with their subthemes: (1) The Transition – Transition to College; Transition to Lacrosse Program; (2) Support Systems – Support from Teammates; Support from Native Peers; Support from Coaches; (3) Engaging with Ignorance – Encountering Microaggressions; Explaining Native Identity; (4) Playing Native – Native Lacrosse; Empowered to Play Native; Disempowered to Play Native; Native Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse; (5) Learning Native – Early Academic Challenges; The Turnaround; Empowering Connections; Cultural Disconnect; (6) Relationship to Home – Going Home; Being a Role Model; Giving Back to Youth; and, (7) Future of Native Lacrosse – Feedback for Coaches. Results from this study suggest the themes and subthemes that emerged through conversations have an impact on the journey towards critical self-authorship, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. The implications from this study are as follows: (1) colleges and universities must exemplify the four themes of critical self-authorship, (2) people in relationship with collegiate Native lacrosse athletes must act in ways that empower the journey towards critical self-authorship, and (3) collegiate lacrosse programs must fully embrace and appropriately elevate the cultural connection of Native identity and lacrosse.