American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2020


This dissertation examines how Native art makes critical interventions that are aesthetically and intellectually arranged with the intention of displacing the master narratives. The project tracks how film and photography—historically used by non-Native people as a tool of colonialism—are being reclaimed by the visual and sonic scholarship of contemporary Native artists. The project shows how multidisciplinary artists use technology to remix audiovisual archives from a specific time in American history: portrait photography and ethnographic filmmaking at the turn of the twentieth century, Hollywood’s frontier representations of Indianness in twentieth-century motion pictures, social guidance classroom films from the 1950s, and digital video surveillance cameras in the twenty-first century. All of these carry legacies of intense racial coding, ones which Native scholars and visual artists have critiqued with counter discourse and works of “visual sovereignty.” Intervening into film studies, Native American studies, and critical theories of visual culture, the research offers new insights into the complex relationship between settler colonialism and visual sovereignty. I use visual sovereignty as a framework to confront the often-absurd assumptions that circulate around visual representations of Native Americans, while also disempowering structures of cinematic dominance and stereotype.


Native American Studies, Visual Culture, Native Art, Film, Photography, Remix Studies, Native Feminism

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Jennifer Nez Denetdale

Second Committee Member

Luana Ross

Third Committee Member

Rebecca Schreiber

Fourth Committee Member

Antonio T. Tiongson Jr.

Available for download on Thursday, May 16, 2024