Date of Award

Fall 12-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Robert Pauly

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Joseph St. Marie

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Tom Lansford

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 4

Paul Lachapelle

Committee Member 5

Candace Bright


Native Americans living in Indian Country continue to experience poverty due, in part, to a lack of sufficient employment opportunities. Indian reservations, often situated in rural areas, can be difficult to access and complicated land and political issues can make it difficult to attract outside investors. However, as is the case for most people, Native Americans living on or near their respective reservation communities do not necessarily want to leave home to find work. This study examined the social networks of a sample of Native Americans from two tribes in Montana. A social network analysis was conducted to understand how job networks in Indian Country affected job acquisition in terms of location. Individual networks were analyzed to determine if they were primarily bridging or bonding and then compared to a respondent’s job location preference, on, adjacent to, or off reservation. In addition, individual job acquisition methods were analyzed and compared to job location preference. Results show that there was no relationship between network type and job location preference and that the methods used to acquire jobs were the opposite from what was expected. That is, the respondents whose networks, overall, were more bridging acquired their jobs using bonding methods more frequently and the respondents whose networks, overall, were more bonding acquired their jobs using bridging methods more frequently. If resources are scarce, using strong network ties to access jobs may be necessary; however, if resources are abundant, using weak network ties within the bonded networks that exist in Indian Country is useful. Recommendations for future research include studying how dense networks function to benefit tribal development, the way that network ties are defined in Indian Country, and who are the people that act as network bridges relative to their specific tribes. This study contributes to the network strand of the social capital literature, to the literature on indigenous people and jobs, and to the development literature, especially as it relates to socioeconomics.