Date of Award



© 2019 Joshua Bullock

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Second Advisor

Darren Akerman

Third Advisor

Kelli Mosteller


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the phenomenon of how high school administrators view the identity of their school’s American Indian mascot and how it creates school culture, views of American Indians, and cultural appropriation. Critical race theory offered a positional framework to contextualize the phenomena as experienced by each participant. Understanding the influence of an American Indian mascot has on administration is important because it adds insight into the controversial conversation about American Indian mascots and their use nationwide. This research study added to the body of knowledge regarding American Indian mascots by specifically engaging in the phenomenon from the perspective of leaders in positions of power within a public school.

This study examined two research questions: (1) What value do school administrators ascribe to their school’s American Indian mascot? and (2) how do school administrators perceive and describe how an American Indian mascot influences their school culture and identity? Nine public school leaders participated. Data were collected through one-on-one semi-structured interviews and the data were transcribed and analyzed. Three themes were discovered from the data: (1) the mascot’s symbol binds the community together by symbolizing pride, unity, strength, and togetherness, (2) the history and identity of the mascot transcended any benefit to changing it, and (3) the mascot is seen as a positive symbol. The researcher interpreted the themes using transcendental phenomenology, which led to the composite description of leaders within a public school that has an American Indian high school Mascot. The study provided two recommendations for leaders, including exploration of the mascot's impact on American Indian students and meeting with Tribal leaders and Tribal community members. The researcher encouraged further study by recommending an examination of American Indians and people of color in leadership positions and their ascribed meaning in public schools with American Indian mascots and further study in different regions of the United States.


Ed.D. Dissertation