Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Native American children are sometimes inappropriately assessed, diagnosed, and labeled using Western European standardized intelligence measurements. The use of these measures with Native American children leads to questions regarding appropriate placement issues. Many clinicians are unfamiliar with these unique cultural differences. Some studies suggest the possibility of a “Native American Pattern” on the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (McShane & Plas, 1982). Mishra (1982) also found cultural bias with Information, Similarities, and Vocabulary subtests on the WISC-R when comparing Anglo and Navajo children with matching Full Scale IQ's. The present study investigated the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III; Wechsler, 1991) patterning differences between Native American and Caucasian children. The study sample consisted of 89 Native American children that have attended or are currently attending a tribally controlled boarding school in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and 70 Caucasian children that were assessed at the University of North Dakota.

Many important factors related to cultural differences can impact performance on intelligence measurements. This becomes especially concerning when Native American children are assessed with intelligence measures developed primarily for the majority culture and these scores are used for important placement decisions. The degree to which these factors measurably impact Native American children is not well understood. This study may have provided some important clues and information related to patterning performance differences between Native American and Caucasian children.