American Indian tribes face the phenomenon known across the world as the brain drain. They invest millions of dollars in educating their members, only to have little return on their investments. Many nation members leave reservations to get postsecondary education but never return, contributing to the brain drain. Those who get education off the reservation and choose to return are the exceptions to this rule. Although there is an abundance of literature regarding the brain drain across the world, there has been little research done with American Indians. In order to begin to understand the brain drain phenomenon this study analyzed unstructured qualitative interviews of 17 Navajo Nation members who left their reservation, obtained a degree and returned to work on the reservation. Themes resulting from the hermeneutic analysis of texts that describe the reason why these individuals returned were (a) Family Support, (b) Cultural Identity, (c) Simple Lifestyle, (d) Community and (e) Reservation Economy. The analysis found that constant, lengthy, and meaningful relationships were motivating factors in drawing participants back to contribute to their reservations. Those principles and teachings in the home of these returnees prompts further research in identifying the reasons they were drawn back to their American Indian communities.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Adolpho, Quintina Ava, "Navajo Nation Brain Drain: An Exploration of Returning College Graduates' Perspectives" (2015). All Theses and Dissertations. 5476.
Brain drain, American Indian, Native American, education, Navajo Nation