Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Susan Smith

Second Committee Member

Lisa Neuman

Third Committee Member

Bryan Silverman


I seek to inquire about the world as it relates to my identity as a first generation descent of the Penobscot tribe living in the United States by utilizing four methodologies in my research: life histories/autobiographies, narrative inquiry, a/r/tography and practice-based and practice-led. Through coupling my artistic practice with those four methodologies I am able to creatively show the information I have unearthed in hopes that others will benefit from a fresh and augmented understanding of what it historically and culturally means to be a part of a community that makes up a very small percentage of the United States demographic: the Native Americans, or what I prefer to call the Indigenous peoples/Indigenous peoples of North America.

This thesis explores the intersections between growing up within Western European and North American Indigenous culture and education. By analyzing how a person determines their identity through their experiences with home environment, society, and the education system, this thesis document will examine the challenges that come from expressing and understanding race and identity as a North American Indigenous person. In this document, I am looking to scholars in the fields of indigenous studies, anthropology, sociology, and other disciplines of the humanities. I am looking to cross-examine the content that the United States education system provides surrounding the history and portrayal of Native Nations. There are currently more and more discrepancies being brought to light by indigenous studies scholars, and Native Nations documenting their true histories that are not mentioned in textbooks that are handed out to students in United States public schools.

It is the exploration of the interconnections of being a woman, artist, educator, and native person that drives the research and creation of my art practice. Through creating art related to societal problems I hope to promote awareness where we can learn from our past mistakes and facilitate a dialogue where people can talk about what we can do to improve society for future generations.

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