Publication Date

Summer 7-30-2019


This study looks at articulations, performances and translations of ethnicity among urban Lakota Christians at St. Matthew’s and St. Isaac Jogues in Rapid City, South Dakota. Within the context of increased ethnic revitalization and recognition, Native American Christians are negotiating new models of ethnicity in typically Western arenas, often manifesting through actions and discourse that are ostensibly traditional. Yet even in this era of recognition, the public performance of cultural authenticity is not the only thing on people’s minds. Native people mark various practices, symbols, and persons as traditional or modern at different points in history or within different contexts (see Bucko 1998); suggesting that individual expressions of ethnicity are both processual and event- dependent (see Agha 2007:165, 177, 255-256, 268). Thus, looking at Lakota Christians’ discourse and performance in congregational life, interpersonal interactions, and personal reflections illuminate many of the ways in which individuals and various subgroups (families, denominations, etc.) signal their ethnicities within the Church, and across time. This study reveals that ethnic expression in congregational life is demonstrated through specifically situated representations of difference rather than universalized or fixed categories of indigeneity, even in this era of ethnic recognition.


semiotic ideology, religion, culture, anthropology, ethnicity, urban anthropology, indigeneity, communication, linguistic anthropology

Document Type




Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Anthropology

First Committee Member (Chair)

David Dinwoodie

Second Committee Member

Suzanne Oakdale

Third Committee Member

Louise Lamphere

Fourth Committee Member

Raymond Bucko

Included in

Anthropology Commons