Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Jamie Turgeon-Drake

Second Advisor

Donis Drappeau

Third Advisor

Chelsea Wesner


COVID-19, Native American, Systemic Inequities, South Dakota, Mental Health

Subject Categories

Indigenous Studies | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Public Health


American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities test positive for COVID-19 and experience higher mortality than other racial and ethnic groups. These high rates of vulnerability could be connected to the systemic inequalities that have been experienced for centuries. This study aimed to compare socioeconomic stressors, concerns, and mental health experiences during the early COVID-19 pandemic between AI/AN and non-AIAN populations in South Dakota. The study sample (n=1,586) was grouped by AI/AN and non-AI/AN status based on self-identification of being AI/AN alone or in combination with another race/ethnicity. Participant responses to socioeconomic stressors and concerns (e.g., top concerns, level of concern, self-isolation, lifestyle, and financial changes) related to the pandemic were compared, as well as mean scores for mental health experiences. There were both similarities and notable differences between both groups regarding response for all of the measures. In terms of mental health factors, the AI/AN group reported having slightly higher means of anxiety, depression, appetite problems, and suicidal ideations in comparison to the non-AI/AN group.

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