Media Studies refers to the broad range of interdisciplinary subjects focusing on media culture and production. This may include media theory; game studies & design; communication & culture; telecommunications & communication science; media production, design, & aesthetics; mass media & popular culture; film & cinema studies, including the history & culture thereof; identity & representation; policy, copyright, and other legal frameworks; media ecology; journalism and the news, public relations and advertising, among many others. This subject area may also maintain commitments to sociocultural concerns relevant to information technology, such as the surveillance economy, social media, and other forms of technologically mediated interactions.
Media studies may and often does intersect with other fields, including philosophy, literary & social theory, art history & criticism, and cultural studies, et al.
This guide comprises resources and information relevant to students within the IU Media School, as well as those engaging with media, generally, in their research. Scholars of media often find themselves working with and across a variety frameworks, both regional and global; formats, both analog (film, videocassettes/DVDs) and digital; and styles, from radio programming to movies, from television to video games, and beyond.
In recognition of this month's celebration of indigenous history and culture, we present this curated playlist of Indigenous artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. Collected here are artists representing their heritage and identity in musical stylings varying from traditional to contemporary, spanning a spectrum of hip hop, metal, country, and experimental. Listen and explore a sampling of the vast contributions to modern American music by Indigenous peoples.
This list only serves as a diving point into the vast contributions to American and international popular music made by Indigenous artists. Join us in celebrating and exploring these genre defining (and defying) artists. Below the playlist, you'll find a comprehensive discussion of the context and history of the music we've highlighted, as well as a selection of resources for further reading on Indigenous music.
Beyond the Playlist
If you'd like to engage more deeply with the experience of Indigenous people within the context of Turtle Island, we've also curated a list of books, movies, databases, and podcasts to support further curiosity and learning. You can also find that list by clicking on the Indigenous Heritage & History Month box on the left-hand side of this page, in the navigation menu.
Additionally, as part of this celebration and remembering, there is also an introduction to Two-Spirit identity and the LGBTQIA Indigenous experience on the Gender Studies Research Guide and an overview of Indigenous Philosophy on the Philosophy Research Guide.
Our playlist moves throughout various points in North American musical history, with artists dating back to the early 20th century. In the early decades of jazz, Mildred Bailey (Cour de’Alene) emerged as a household name. Bailey started her singing career at 17 and went on to perform genre staples of the jazz giants of her time. In the late 1920s, blues music was being recorded and released to great popularity, and among the artists of this blues explosion was Charlie Patton (Choctaw). Hailed as the father of Delta Blues, Patton, of mixed (Black, white, and Indigenous) ancestry, pioneered the driving rhythms and impassioned vocals that became representative of blues music in the delta region and would lay the foundational groundwork for rock n roll musicians to come.
Moving into the 1960s, Indigenous artists had an undeniable impact on popular music despite a lack of commercial success. Buffy Sainte-Marie, born on the Piapot 75 reserve and adopted by a Mi’kmaq family as an infant, gained notoriety in the New York folk scene for her impassioned and fiercely political compositions and performances. She penned hit anthems of the 1960s counterculture scene, including “Unknown Soldier” and “Cod’ine,” though she is seldom given credit where it is due. Further south along the east coast, rock n roll pioneer Link Wray (Cherokee and Shawnee) emerged with the single “Rumble” in 1958. Wray, born in North Carolina,, would change rock n roll forever with his signature heavy and distorted guitar tones, paving the way for punk and metal musicians to follow. Collected here is an example of Wray’s country and Americana roots from his self-titled 1971 album, a pioneering work of the home-recording movement that would carry into the 21st century.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Indigenous artists had a profound influence on popular American genres. Often forgotten in the shadow of his contemporaries like Eric Clapton and George Harrison, Jesse Ed Davis (Comanche, Seminole, Muskogee, and Kiowa) was a highly acclaimed guitar player. Born in Oklahoma, Davis played with hugely popular artists of his time, featuring alongside names like John Lennon, Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, and Leonard Cohen. On the west coast, brothers Pat and Candido Vasquez-Vegas (Yaqui, Shoshone, and Mexican) formed the all Native American rock group Redbone. The brothers penned radio-rock staples for the 1970s with hits like “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” and the ever-lasting “Come and Get Your Love.” Across the nation at this time, acts were popping up on reservations and in indigenous communities, exemplified here by the band Sugluk with their song “Ajuinnarasuarsunga,” a fusion of rock n roll song structure and first nations language.
Moving into the 1980s, singer-songwriter Archie James Cavanaugh (Tlingit) released his yacht rock classic “Black and White Raven.” Born in Alaska, Cavanaugh traveled the west coast assembling a band that included members of Redbone to release his often overlooked album, its fusion of disco and soft rock represented here on “Take it Easy.” In country music, First Nations culture is frequently referenced but seldom represented justly. This was not the case in the music of Buddy Red Bow (Lakota). Red Bow dedicated his career to singing of the plight of Indigenous peoples and the injustices wrought by white colonists. The music of Indigenous artists was also significant in rising genres of the decade like new age. Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida and Onondaga) would become an influential figure in this genre and would go on to set the record for Native American Music Awards won by a single artist.
Moving into the 21st century to the present, Indigenous artists still hold an influential place in modern American genres, driving them forward with ingenuity and expert artistry. Artist Martha Redbone continues in the tradition of rhythm n blues and soul music, fusing these sounds with traditional indigenous music drawn from her heritage of Choctaw, Cherokee, and African American. Artist Samantha Crain melds folk rock, indie rock, and americana with indigenous influence reflective of her Choctaw heritage. Inuk artist Beatrice Deer makes indie rock that is consistently inventive and exciting, earning her the Best Inut/Cultural Album award for her 2005 effort “Just Bea.” In the vein of indie rock, Silver Jackson makes music in numerous groups, performing under this name as well as his Tlingit name. Groups like Cemican and Nechochwen fuse First Nations history and political outcry over unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples with the harsh and aggressive sounds of metal, driving the genre forward still in the 21st century. Doom metal group Divide and Dissolve (Black, Tsalagi, Maori) fuse classical music with doom metal and lyrical outcry over injustices wrought against indigenous peoples to create uniquely political music for the 21st century. Artist Black Belt Eagle Scout furthers the mix of traditional indigenous influence with alternative rock, creating post rock informed by her Swinomish heritage. Artist Tanya Tagaq (Inuk) create music unlike anything heard before, fusing traditional throat singing with ambient soundscapes derived from noise and drone music. In hip hop, First Nations artists bring exciting changes and new voices to the cultural forefront, as is the case with Angel Haze (Cherokee), who raps of their experiences as an individual identifying as pansexual and agender in the hip hop world, as well as celebrating their mixed Indigenous heritage. Groups like A Tribe Called Red fuse electronic genres like dubstep and house with hip hop and traditional First Nations music to create a sound wholly their own in the massive EDM music market.
Library & Scholarly Sources
Indigenous pop: Native American music from jazz to hip hop (IUCAT - Book)
Rumble: the Indians who rocked the world (IUCAT - Documentary)
"The Nammys Versus the Grammys: Celebrity, Technology, and the Creation of an Indigenous Music Recording Industry in North America" (The World of Music Journal)
"A Tribe Called Red’s Halluci Nation: Sonifying embodied global allegiances, decolonization, and indigenous activism" (Intersections)
Rumble On: Native American Musicians You Should Know (PBS)
8 Artists Exploding the Concept of Native American Music (Paste Magazine)
Review of 'Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985' (Pitchfork)
"Taking it Easy": On Archie James Cavanaugh (Numero Group)
The Evolution Of Angel Haze (BuzzFeed)
Remembering Buddy Red Bow (Indianz)
6 Indigenous Metal Bands You Need To Know About (Metal Injection)