Perceptions of leadership expectations on the Blackfeet Reservation (Montana)

Lester III R. Johnson
College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Montana
June, 2005


This dissertation was motivated by a challenge in leadership based upon a potentially conflicting interaction among leadership expectations of three separate governments on the Blackfeet Reservation in north central Montana. A questionnaire was generated from the review of the ethnographic, historical and research literature pertaining to the perceptions of leadership expectations of the Blackfeet people, as well as the data collected from purposefully selected tribal leaders and a review of western leadership expectations. The population for this study included all administrators who by virtue of their position have access to perceptions of leadership expectations of their organizational entities. Sixty purposefully selected leaders from these administrators was the total sample for this research. Twenty came from each of the three identified organizational entities: Blackfeet Tribal, Federal government of the United States of America, and the State of Montana. Results of the study concluded that although the sample size was not robust to the assumptions necessary to meet the a priori conditions of a bivariate analysis using the chi square test, the percentages calculated from the frequency distribution were not compromised by the lack of reportable p-values and were used to analyze the problem of a crisis in leadership on the Blackfeet Reservation. The frequencies, their distributions, weight of importance, magnitude of differences in expectations, their commonalties as well as differences for tribe, federal, and state comparisons allowed for conclusions important to establishing a base upon which to build mutual leadership expectations while at the same time, provide a basis for respecting mutual cultural differences. Recommendations included the need for enhancing communication among entities as a basis for initiating change. Recognizing the differences in where leaders take their direction for expectations is important. Aligning organizations by identified strengths when working together is a key for mitigating conflict of leadership expectations on the Blackfeet Reservation. Implications for further research include expanding sample size for further research to include leadership study on other Indian reservations, formalize research procedures, and expanding qualitative aspect of research.