Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase B. Clow, PhD

First Reader

Gay Lynch, PhD


An extensive amount of scholarship exists today on Native American and Indigenous people within the realm of music and dance ethnography. Over the centuries research and observations have used these stunning and profound creative expressions as a means by which to document and theorize about the people, their histories, traditions, and ways of being. However, a tremendous amount of this scholarship is developed from specific forms and styles of expression, resulting in a kind of separation that arises from examining an individual dance or song tradition as a stand-alone inquiry. By dislocating individual forms from the overarching whole, we limit our scope and the ability to understand dance as more than sharing stories or recounting history. In this paper we will attempt to experience these traditions through the more holistic scope of lived experience, as a means for considering a larger narrative of dance in Native life. We will explore the intrinsic role of dance as it relates to spiritual expression and cultural identity, as a vehicle for cultural revitalization, and as a place for discourse and transformation – dance as life.