Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Beverly Weber

Second Advisor

Cheryl Higashida

Third Advisor

Angelica Lawson


The Western film presents its viewers with a supposed historical depiction of America’s “Great West,” set during the period of the United States’ westward expansion in the nineteenth century. However, the Western film reiterates a mythologized version of the American West that relies on archetypal themes, events, and characters through the synthesis of story, image and music. This paper examines the Western’s most problematic archetype, the “Indian.” The Indian’s liminal role in American mythology will be examined through the analysis of the aural recoding and obscuring of authentic Native American auralities according to the sonic power structures of the Euro-American soundscape, and subsequently, how this aural recoding informs the role of the “Indian” in three successful Western films from the Western’s heyday, Red River (1948), Broken Arrow (1950), and The Searchers (1956).