Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Justin Berg

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Data gathered from the National Resource Center on Native American Aging at the University of North Dakota was utilized (N = 8,396) to see if a relationship exists between cultural identity and social capital, the independent variables, and the dependent variable, subjective health. It is anticipated that there will be strong relationships between cultural identity, social capital, and subjective health because it is culturally expected that the younger generations of American Indians will take care of their elders by providing support when needed. This will provide a strong sense of well-being for American Indian elders. Additionally, cultural identity is expected to play a greater role in determining American Indians elders’ subjective health based off of findings from previous research documenting the importance of culture amongst American Indians.

Results suggest that cultural identity and social capital both play an important role in determining American Indians elders’ subjective health. However, it was revealed that social capital did explain more of the variation in subjective health than cultural identity beyond the control variables. Implications of these results suggest a need for reservation officials, caregivers, and family members to consider developing programs that encourage cultural participation while utilizing new ideas incorporating social capital.

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