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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. A scholar of law, critical race theory, and Black feminist thought, Crenshaw used intersectionality to explain the experiences of Black women who – because of the intersections of race, gender, and class – are exposed to exponential forms of marginalization and oppression. Intersectionality & Higher Education documents and expands upon Crenshaw’s ideas within the context of U.S. higher education. The text includes theoretical and conceptual chapters on intersectionality; empirical research using intersectionality frameworks; and chapters focusing on intersectional practices. The volume may prove beneficial for graduate programs in ethnic studies, higher education, sociology, student affairs, and women and gender studies alike.
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Chapter Four: The Multiplicity and Intersectionality of Indigenous Identities


← 44 | 45 → CHAPTER FOUR


According to the 2000 U.S. Census, American Indians and Alaska Natives along with Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders comprise 1.5% and 0.3% of the U.S. population, respectively (Grieco, 2001; Ogunwole, 2002). When they comprise such a small portion of the nation’s total population, it seems of little surprise that these groups are not broadly well understood. The misunderstanding of Native (referred to interchangeably as Indigenous) peoples in the United States is further compounded by a dominant grand narrative of Native peoples as vanishing into the distant past (Deloria, 1988; Smith, 2010).

Unfortunately, Native peoples are also not well represented or well understood within the context of higher education. Despite reporting high college aspirations, American Indian and Alaska Native students enroll in and graduate from college at lower rates than most other racial and ethnic groups nationally (Brayboy, Fann, Castagno, & Solyom, 2012). Similarly, Native Hawaiians enroll in and complete college at lower rates than all other major ethnic groups within Hawai‘i (Kana‘iaupuni, Malone, & Ishibashi, 2005). This is problematic since, through participation in postsecondary education, Indigenous peoples might equip themselves with Western academic tools, including skills and social capital, which might be bent toward meeting Indigenous community needs (Brayboy, 2005a; Brayboy et al., 2012).

If the academy is to better serve the needs of its Native students, it must begin with a better understanding of who Native peoples are. In this...

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