A timeline of how Native Americans/indigenous peoples have decolonized & indigenized: opera, jazz, & blues

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


At the beginning of the assimilation era, Indigenous Tribes in North America were suppressed into western civilization. Suppression of Native American culture was rampant and still is. The art of music has come back with a vengeance and has helped the progression of decolonization and indigenization within many cultures, especially indigenous ones across the United States and Canada. The purpose of this thesis is to explore how Native Americans and Indigenous people have been able to decolonize and indigenize music between 1879 and present day -- specifically in genres such as opera, jazz and blues. The specific start date of the year 1879 enables us to engage and learn about the effects of missionary schools, more commonly known as boarding schools, and the effects that these schools have had on the culture and music for these communities. The activism in this paper is gauged on a scale of minimalism and maximization. These two spectrums will be explored in every genre provided and will present a preview of how native artists define the term activism and how they use or do not use it. Within indigenous activism, the terms 'Indigenization' and 'Decolonization' are vital and need to be established because some musical forms such as jazz are already decolonized in a historical sense. These forms of music stemmed from Black communities rebelling against the Westernized system that enslaved them thus forcing Black Americans to assimilate as well and adapt to new settings, create new cultures and with that new music. Decolonization can take place in European or Western forms of music such as opera and classical music. The timeline and interviews with current indigenous musicians will help show changes over time (even though timelines are a colonial or Western aspect), what being indigenous looks like in music, and how decolonization and indigenization have evolved as theories.




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