Date of Award

Fall 11-26-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Mitchell Kossak

Second Advisor

Robyn Cruz

Third Advisor

Lori Lambert


The purpose of this arts-based and Indigenous research study was to explore how Native Americans understand ‘place-based imagery’ through an Indigenous art making and storytelling experience to illuminate perspectives and experiences of a ‘sense of place’. Storywork, an Indigenous research method directed the culturally grounded research project. The Native American moccasin was the symbolic cultural catalyst used to create a multimedia art piece to express and reflect traditional cultural knowledge rooted within this symbol. Native Americans representing five federally recognized tribes participated in the study. As a result of a pilot study, a definition of place-based imagery was developed. Place-based imagery is making or creating meaning of symbols, shapes, colors, and designs, related to P-People, L-Land, A-Ancestry, C-Culture, E-Experiences that may foster, awaken and/or deepen one’s connection and understanding of self and a sense of place.

The research findings were examined and derived using an Indigenous paradigm. A culturally based understanding of a ‘sense of place’ was developed from the stories and imagery. Perspectives relating to unwavering support, an interconnection of culture and land, intergenerational knowledge transfer, deepened cultural knowledge, balance, and an understanding of a felt sense of place, emerged as a result of the moccasin making and storytelling experience. Secondly, an approach was developed using ‘response art’ as a technique that may be used to mitigate secondary trauma. The study showed that

Expressive Arts is an effective intervention used with Native Americans to inspire strength based cultural stories and images that encouraged self-understanding.


I am forever grateful for the trust and support from research participants and tribal members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes.



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