Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Anna J. Secor


Though there is a wealth of theory and research on the relationship between space and identity, few, if any, investigations in geographic literature have examined the relationship between space, identity and education. This research asks the question: In what ways are the spaces of formal education and the spaces of informal education on the Blackfeet reservation similar or different and how does this relationship affect the formation of the identity of the Blackfeet traditional student? For this project, students affiliation with traditional practice is defined by their self-identification and is not connected with their tribal membership status. In interviews, students discuss intersections of education and community and the ways in which the practices and content of learning associated with both spaces affects the learning experience and the self. The research employs a nonessentialist, constitutive phenomenological framework tempered by theories of the productiveness of power, focused on the disidentification of dominant categories through an analysis of: the performativity of agency, the multiple scales of historicity, the situatedness of experience, and the contingent nature of the production of meaning, for the purposes of exploring identity formation, based on the idea that this approach will lead to the elucidation of matters involved in the internalization of the motivation to participate in spaces of learning. The findings show that there is a strong relationship between three elements: spaces of the school that reflect significant aspects of spaces of learning in the community, positive student experiences, and motivation. Also shown, is that the rubric of analysis devised by the researcher, works to break down dominant beliefs regarding the success of traditional Blackfeet students in the school. Finally, a strong case is made for the inclusion of spaces of formal and informal learning in geographic analysis.