Spirit of the buffalo : a qualitative case study examining the perceived efficacy of principals on a Northern Plains Reservation.


In schools serving Indigenous populations, consistency in leadership is imperative. The needs of schools serving American Indian and Native Alaskan students differ from the needs of conventional schools. Leaders of Indigenous serving schools should prepare to meet the needs of the students and the community. This study sought to fill a gap in the literature highlighting the connection between individual self-beliefs and faculty perceptions of the principal’s efficacy, specifically as it pertains to leaders working with American Indian populations. This single-case study, grounded in case-study analysis through the lens of an interpretational analysis approach, explored the alignment of principal efficacy beliefs and faculty perceptions of principal efficacy beliefs. The researcher sought to understand the extent to which leaders’ efficacy beliefs were influenced by internal personal factors, behavior, or the external environment using Bandura’s (1997) self-efficacy framework as a basis for the study. The 22 participants of the study consisted of four principals and 18 faculty members from the Buffalo Jump School District. The researcher conducted data collection in two phases and interpreted the data utilizing the four key elements of Bandura’s (1997) self-efficacy theory as a framework within the context of the interpretational analysis categories. Three major understandings emerged from this research to illustrate the alignment of principals’ sense of efficacy and faculty perceptions of leader efficacy; (a) visibility matters, (b), efficacy is related to control, and (c) values are foundational. In this study, the researcher learned that individuals view other’s actions through the lens of their personal values and worldview. The data revealed that principals in the Buffalo Jump School District consistently reported having higher efficacy beliefs in managerial areas and concrete tasks. Thus, the researcher posits the perception of control influences efficacy beliefs. Individual value systems influence the participant perceptions of leadership efficacy. The differences between the responses of the Native American participants and White participants can likely be attributed to their differences in values systems and world views. The value systems of the participants influenced their interpretation of leader efficacy.



Self-efficacy. Leadership. Native American. Values. Efficacy. Indigenous. Principal. Teacher. Reservation. School.