Thesis Title

Mandalas and cultural identity: Increasing positive identification with Chamorro native heritage

Graduation Date

Spring 2016

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Amy Backos, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Louvenia Jackson, PhD, ATR-BC


This graduate research study explored the effectiveness of adapting a traditional art directive of mandalas for use with individuals of Chamorro descent to develop positive identification with Chamorro native heritage. Fifty participants participated in the study; the majority were females who resided on the island of Guam; a US territory. Almost half of the participants indicated a positive increase in their identification with Chamorro native heritage after creating their own sea turtle mandala artwork. Data findings from the Chamorro cultural questionnaires indicated specific words, namely ‘Family/Familia’, ‘Food’, and ‘Respect’ as strongly associated with Chamorro culture. Additionally, said words were used frequently by the participants within their artwork. Analysis from 24 submitted artwork indicated ‘Trees and Flora’ as the dominant symbol category. Findings from this study contribute to the growing archive of culturally based research with indigenous populations residing in the contiguous forty-eight states, the non-contiguous states, and territories of the US.