Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair; Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Member; Helen Eckmann, EdD, Member; Patricia Makokis, EdD, Member


Canada, Cree leaders, cultural, ethics, Eurocentrism, First Nations, Indigenous peoples, Leadership studies, minority & ethnic groups, nêhiyawak, qualitative, relational leadership, talking-circle dialogue


The study of leadership is gaining popularity as evidenced by the increasing number of leadership development programs in both corporate and academic environments. Therefore, the way that leadership is defined becomes important. Unfortunately, the majority of literature on leadership emphasizes a Eurocentric or Western perspective. This study explored the leadership-related thinking and practices embraced by a First Nations population in Canada: nehiyawak or the Cree people. As the research evolved, the study also ended up exploring both cultural differences with respect to knowledge and knowing and the ethical issues involved with permitting non-native researchers to study native groups. The latter issue arose because of the exploitation that indigenous groups have experienced when working with mainstream-culture researchers in the past. The proposal for the study indicated that the study would be built around qualitative interviewing, participant observation, and the largely inductive, coding-based analysis process commonly used in qualitative research. These pre-defined strategies were modified during the course of the study to ensure that the research was a collaborative effort between the Western researcher and the First Nations group that agreed to participate in the study. Procedures also were intentionally modified to reflect the recommendations of an emerging literature on indigenous methodology. Group members were familiar with this literature and viewed the methods described in it as strategies for reclaiming their group's traditional ways of knowing. The study revealed that the Indigenous nation that participated in the study is in a process of resistance, self determination and healing from the wounds of genocide. The study also demonstrated that the Western tendency to associate leadership with hierarchy and positional power is radically different than the relational and interconnection-oriented view of leadership that is traditional in Cree culture. Even more contemporary Western literature that emphasizes collaboration and a more relational view of leadership differs, in significant ways, from Cree ways of leadership which encompass an alignment of one's mind, spirit, and body, as well as the regular engagement in ceremony.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies