Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Kim VanDerLinden

Second Supervisor

Sally Wagner


Promoting transracial adoptions became common in attempting to assimilate American Indians into European American culture. These adoptions were authorized by the United States Government through the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. This research focused on how American Indian transracial adoptees developed a Haudenosaunee cultural identity after being adopted by a European American family. The ethnographic study was conducted with Haudenosaunee adult adoptees to explore their lived experiences. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were used to guide the conversation about the degree to which each participant developed a cultural identity as a Haudenosaunee. Qualitative methods were used for data analysis. The study discovered four themes which were: traumatic beginnings, relationships, identity development, and cultural transcendence. These themes validate the Haudenosaunee adoptee’s life experiences. A result of this study a policy change for Indian Child Services Welfare Act (ICWA) is recommended. Also in the field of social work further cultural competence training is recommended especially those involved with transracial adoptions. Lastly, the need for more research about this topic needs to continue to keep expanding the knowledge of how indigenous communities have demonstrated cultural resiliency.

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