Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2016 January ; 22(1): 1–10


Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association.



Objectives—Thoughts of historical loss (i.e., the loss of culture, land, and people as a result of colonization) are conceptualized as a contributor to the contemporary distress experienced by North American Indigenous populations. Although discussions of historical loss and related constructs (e.g., historical trauma) are widespread within the Indigenous literature, empirical efforts to understand the consequence of historical loss are limited, partially because of the lack of valid assessments. In this study we evaluated the longitudinal measurement properties of the Historical Loss Scale (HLS)—a standardized measure that was developed to systematically examine the frequency with which Indigenous individuals think about historical loss—among a sample of North American Indigenous adolescents. We also test the hypothesis that thoughts of historical loss can be psychologically distressing.

Methods—Via face-to-face interviews, 636 Indigenous adolescents from a single cultural group completed the HLS and a measure of anxiety at 4 time-points, which were separated by 1- to 2-year intervals (M age = 12.09 years, SD = .86, 50.0% girls at baseline).

Results—Responses to the HLS were explained well by 3-factor (i.e., cultural loss, loss of people, and cultural mistreatment) and second-order factor structures. Both of these factor structures held full longitudinal metric (i.e., factor loadings) and scalar (i.e., intercepts) equivalence. In addition, using the second-order factor structure, more frequent thoughts of historical loss were associated with increased anxiety.

Conclusions—The identified 3-factor and second-order HLS structures held full longitudinal measurement equivalence. Moreover, as predicted, our results suggest that historical loss can be psychologically distressing for Indigenous adolescents.