Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Winter 12-16-2021


ABSTRACT Every single person has leadership ability. Some step up and take them. Some don't. My answer was to step up and lead. ̴Wilma Mankiller ̴ How well prepared are New Mexico school leaders to serve in leadership positions in rural communities with high ratios of Indigenous populations? In this study, I utilized an Indigenous research paradigm to explore policy, reciprocal relationships, licensure requirements in one state, and perceptions from a variety of individuals in rural communities to develop an understanding of what is necessary to create and sustain successful school leadership in an Indigenous community. An Indigenous paradigm of research works from design qualities including: 1) reciprocal relationships between researcher and the community or individuals; 2) developing understandings directly from Indigenous community members, a critical approach to consider both what is helpful and limiting in all that is analyzed; and, 3) being open to multiple perspectives of gathering data, interpretations, and experiences. The xi qualitative methods of data collection I used included individual electronic/email interviews of educators and community members, especially from Indigenous origins, using purposeful, snowball sampling and document analysis of policy related to Indigenous Education in the state, post-secondary educational curriculum, and internships required for principal licensure as well as legislative statutes. My overarching research question was: What are the leadership needs and expectations in rural Indigenous communities and how do they compare to leadership preparation? I analyzed participants’ responses to seven interview questions. Six distinct themes emerged: 1) Preparation to Lead, 2) Impact on Academic Progress, 3) Involvement in Indigenous Community, 4) Effective Skills, Qualities, Characteristics, and Experiences, 5) Preparation in College and Universities, and 6) Expectations. Participants expressed their expectations of school principals, described their observations of and experiences with principals’ leadership styles, and provided recommendations to create an Indigenous rural post-secondary school leaders’ program. My hope is this study may inform necessary elements in leadership preparation programs that are Indigenous-based so they are able to positively serve Indigenous rural education systems


Indigenous, Indigenous Research Paradigm, Rural Schools, Native Americans, American Indians, Reservations

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Shawn L. Secatero, Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

Allison M. Borden

Third Committee Member

Wendy Greyeyes

Fourth Committee Member

Cornel Pewewardy