U.S. politics as a loss reminder: an adaptation of the historical loss scale

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Date

2023

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science

Abstract

Historical loss, the degree to which American Indians (AIs) think about losses such as land, culture, and life, is a contributor to experiences of historical trauma and its negative impacts in AIs. The relationship between historical loss and political participation among AIs has not been examined. AIs have lower rates of political participation than other groups, and ample political participation among AIs is necessary to protect their sovereignty, values, and interests. Minority groups can become mobilized to political action through perceiving discrimination or injustices against them. Measures of historical loss contain items related to the discrimination and injustices that AIs have experienced. While the Historical Loss Scale (HLS) measures the frequency with which AIs think about historical loss, it is rather general and may not relate to U.S. politics or the U.S. government in all cases. Thus, an adaptation of the HLS is introduced called the U.S. Politics as a Loss Reminder Scale (USPLRS) that contextualizes historical losses within the context of U.S. politics. A primary goal of the study was to examine the factor structure, reliability, and validity of the USPLRS. Further, it is possible that by directly contextualizing historical loss within U.S. politics, there will be a positive relationship between the extent to which AIs report U.S. politics act as a reminder of historical losses, and their levels of political engagement. It is also possible that a frequency of general thoughts about historical loss measured by the HLS will also be associated with political engagement. To test these hypotheses, a sample of AI adults (n=877) completed a series of questionnaires including the HLS, USPLRS, and measures of political engagement during the November 2020 national election cycle. Results revealed a 3-factor structure of the USPLRS related to losses due to government mistreatment, death, and loss of respect. Scores on both the HLS and USPLRS were positively associated with political participation, with the USPLRS exhibiting unique predictability beyond the HLS.

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