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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Native American Indigeneity through Danza in University of California Powwows: A Decolonized Approach

  • Author(s): Gutierrez Masini, Jessica
  • Advisor(s): Przybylski, Liz
  • et al.

Since the mid-1970s, the indigenous ritual dance known as Danza has had a profound

impact on the self-identification and concept of space in Xicana communities, but how is this practice received in the powwow space? My project broadly explores how studentorganized powwows at UC Davis, UC Riverside, and UC San Diego (UCSD), are

decolonizing spaces for teaching and learning about Native American identities. Drawing on Beverly Diamond’s alliance studies approach (2007), which illuminates the

importance of social relationships across space and time, as well as my engagement in these powwows, I trace real and imagined connections between Danza and powwow cultures. Today, powwows are intertribal social events organized by committees and coordinated with their local native communities. Powwows not only have restorative

abilities to create community for those who perform, attend, and coordinate them, but they are only a small glimpse of the broader socio-political networks that take place throughout the powwow circuit. By inviting and opening the powwow space to indigeneity across borders, the University of California not only accurately reflects its

own native student body who put on the event, but speak to the growing understanding of "Native American" both north and south of the United States border. Ultimately, I argue an alliance studies approach to historical ethnography and community-based methodologies in music research are crucial, especially in the case of indigenous

communities, who are committed to the survival and production of cultural knowledge embedded in music and dance practices.

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