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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Donal Carbaugh

Second Advisor

Gonen Dori-Hacohen

Third Advisor

Sonya Atalay

Subject Categories

International and Intercultural Communication


This study is a description and interpretation of a Blackfeet (Amskapi Piikuni) discourse of identity as expressed by Blackfeet presenters as part of the Native America Speaks (NAS) program in Glacier National Park, the longest-running Indigenous speaker series in the National Park Service. The study is based on what Blackfeet identify as being important parts of Blackfeet identity within this particular scene, as well as how they participate in that scene. Primary data include a corpus of 30 Blackfeet programs recorded during the summers of 2018 and 2019. Data were analyzed in response to an overarching research question which guides this study: How do Blackfeet presenters in NAS programs create and use discourses about their identity as Blackfeet people? The study is situated within the ethnography of communication research program and more specifically, the framework of cultural discourse analysis. The study employs cultural discourse analysis methods and concepts to describe and develop interpretations of how participants render their being “Blackfeet” symbolically meaningful, and of beliefs and values underpinning such meanings.

One finding of the study is the discovery of a prominent discourse of Blackfeet identity which is comprised of two major symbolic units: one about who we (Blackfeet) are, another about who we are not. Major descriptive and interpretive findings within each, respectively, include (1) the use of the Blackfoot language as both demonstrative and an enactment of being “Blackfeet” but also as provides context for other things to be said including who they are, how they are related, where they are from, and how they interact with others; and, (2) as in contrast to their non-Native and Euro-American audience at NAS, juxtaposing the above with what they are called, who has control over them, where they are allowed to live, and how to interact with others.

This research demonstrates that Blackfeet talk about their being “Blackfeet” in deeply cultural ways, whose symbolic communicative means and meaning shape and are shaped by tangible social and material realities as evidenced in their communication with Euro-American others in attendance at NAS programs. This research too suggests how cultural discourses as created and used in a contemporary and intercultural scene are rooted in historical and ongoing relationships as between the Blackfeet and their Euro- American audience.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.