The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of Maya American youth of the Q’anjob’al ethnic group in the United States. It examined whether American-born Maya children affirmed their indigenous Maya Q’anjob’al background and if they performed better in school and had a better adjustment to life if they had a secure sense of identity. The study includes a discussion of major findings related to the literature on the Post-colonial theory and the theoretical approach of William G. Demmert’s Culturally Based Education (CBE) practices, which refers to education that recognizes the importance of indigenous languages, culture, spirituality, and community participation (Demmert Jr & Towner, 2003). In addition, this study includes a discussion on decolonization theories and the impact of colonization on Maya cultural identity and language loss, and the experiences of Maya American youth in the United States. Furthermore, this investigation aims to inform effective strategies in educational leadership that will empower and celebrate Maya Indigenous identities.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mayas -- Education -- United States; Minority students -- United States -- Attitudes; Group identity -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

James R. Dellaneve