Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies


This study addresses the need for educational research specific to rural populations of American Indians and their non-Indian neighbors. In order to provide answers to both theoretical and practical questions, a survey was conducted with a random sample of rural residents living within a twenty-five mile radius of a rural, tribal institution of higher education. The structured interviews gathered data regarding attitudes, aspirations, expectations, and perceived barriers. Analyses of the data indicate that this population has strong, positive attitudes toward higher education and aspires to a college education in spite of real and perceived barriers. This study does not support the general consensus that rural residents, especially American Indians, have less positive attitudes, lower aspirations, or lower expectations than their more urban counterparts. The findings support the assumptions of rational choice theory and growth motivation theory. American Indian tribes have maximized the benefits of higher education by developing a tribally-controlled college and university system.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Indians of North America -- Education (Higher) Indians of North America -- South Dakota -- Attitudes Student aspirations



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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