Ashley Bouton

Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Nathan Heuer

Second Advisor

Ivan Fortushniak

Third Advisor

B.A. Harrington


The MFA thesis show, Broken Kingdom: An Analysis of Cultural Shifts Amongst the Diné People Upon European Contact, explores the dichotomy between the Diné, or Navajo, traditional culture and the impact of modern, Western society. Having ties in my family ancestry to French, Irish, and Native North American roots, I have a deep interest in studying these historical overlays. By taking part in a powerful community-service learning experience through the non-profit organization, Amizade, as well as personally conducting field study research with members of the Navajo Nation, I have spent extensive time on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona exploring various components of diverse North American cultures. I grew up in a small, industrialized town in Pennsylvania, where Native culture is commonly unknown. My choice to investigate cultures with which I have personal experiences is in accord with this ignited enthusiasm for cultural awareness. Through this cultural analysis, I examine what the modern world has learned from and shares with Native cultures and describe how the Diné have progressively and actively persevered to maintain their culture in a Western dominant world. I believe it is important to create cultural awareness and preserve cultural identity, because each culture contributes to the global society of different perspectives, knowledge, experiences, and ways of living. Broken Kingdom: An Analysis of Cultural Shifts Amongst the Diné People Upon European Contact examines the historical and contemporary cultural changes since first contact and conveys the vibrancy of similarities and differences between the Diné and Euro-Americans ways of living.