Cover: Voices of Identity

Voices of Identity

Exploring Identity Development and Transformation Among Urban American Indian/Alaska Native Emerging Adults

Published in: Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, Volume 24, Issue 2, pages 112-138 (2024). DOI: 10.1080/15283488.2023.2300075

Posted on rand.org May 1, 2024

by Nipher Malika, Alina I. Palimaru, Anthony Rodriguez, Ryan Andrew Brown, Daniel Dickerson, Pierrce Holmes, David P. Kennedy, Carrie L. Johnson, Virginia Arvizu-Sanchez, Kurt Schweigman, et al.

Emerging adulthood shapes personal, professional, and overall well-being through identity exploration. This study addresses a gap in the minority identity literature by investigating how urban AI/AN emerging adults think about their identity and discussing challenges and protective factors associated with exploring their identity holistically. This mixed-methods study created a sampling framework based on discrimination experiences, cultural identity, social network support, mental health, and problematic substance use. We recruited 20 urban AI/AN emerging adults for interviews. We sought to gain deeper insights into their experiences and discussions surrounding identity formation and exploration. We provide descriptives for demographic characteristics and conducted a thematic analysis of the qualitative data from the interviews. Four themes emerged: a) being an urban AI/AN emerging adult means recognizing that one's identity is multifaceted; b) a multifaceted identity comes with tension of living in multiple worlds; c) the trajectory of one's identity grows over time to a deeper desire to connect with Native American culture; and d) understanding one's Native American background affects one's professional trajectory. Findings underscore the importance of developing programs to support well-being and identity development through cultural connection for urban AI/AN emerging adults.

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