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The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between religious affiliation and Native American Identity. Based on the findings of this study, a component of a Native American's Identity is their religious affiliation. To contribute to the research on Native American and Alaskan Native identity, this study targeted the teenage demographic of ages 12 to 19 years old. Over growing concern, expressed by tribal elders, about a loss of cultural identity amongst teens, this study investigates a connection between a teen’s sense of identity and their religious affiliation (Quigley, 2019). This study used a multiple-choice survey tool, that was filtered to only include Native American and Alaskan Native teens, where participants self-identified their cultural identity and their religious affiliation. This survey data comes from Swaim and Stanley (2021) who studied “substance use among American Indian youth” (Swaim & Stanley, 2021). The null hypothesis of this study is that religious affiliation has no effect on Native American Identity. The alternative hypothesis is that religious affiliation does influence Native American Identity. To test this cross tabulations and a Pearson’s R analysis were run. Further hypotheses were made concerning each religious preferences impact on Native American Identity. Another hypothesis was made that says not belonging to a religion reduces a person's Native American Identity. To test these hypotheses simple regressions were run. This study concluded that there is a positive correlation between Traditional Native American Spirituality and high level Native American Identity. Incidentally there is a correlation between no religious affiliation and low level Native American Identity. Lastly a moderated regression was done to see if gender had a moderating effect on the relationship between religious preference and Native American Identity. This study found that gender did not have a moderating effect.

Publication Date



Native American Identity, Religion, Native American, Alaskan Native, Indigenous, American Indian, Social Location Theory, Religious Preference, Gender, Religious Affiliation


Catholic Studies | Christianity | Indigenous Studies | Mormon Studies | Native American Studies | Other Religion | Sociology of Culture | Sociology of Religion

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Myung Jin

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

Relationship between Religion and Native American Identity