Urban American Indian Youth Spirituality and Religion: A Latent Class Analysis

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3 Scopus citations


This article explores the interconnected spiritual, religious, and cultural worlds of the majority of American Indian (AI) youth who live in urban areas: their patterns of involvement in religion and Native spirituality and associated well-being. Latent class analysis of data from 205 AI middle school students identified five distinctive classes using survey measures of religious affiliation, attendance at services, adherence to Christian and traditional spiritual beliefs, Native spirituality, and Native cultural practices. Two classes were Christian groups: one attending Christian churches and following Christian beliefs but uninvolved with Native beliefs, spirituality, or cultural practices; and a nominal Christian group affiliated with but not attending church and unattached to belief systems. Two groups followed Native beliefs and spiritual practices, one affiliated with the Native American Church and another unaffiliated with any church. The fifth, nonreligious group, had no religious affiliation, followed neither Christian nor traditional beliefs, and was uninvolved in Native spirituality and cultural practices. The two groups embracing AI spirituality reported better academic performance, more reservation contact, higher AI enculturation, and stronger bicultural orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-697
Number of pages21
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • American Indian
  • Native American
  • adolescents
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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