Center of Mexican American Studies
Center of Mexican American Studies

Dustin Tahmahkera

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., Bowling Green State University

Dustin Tahmahkera



Dr. Tahmahkera, an enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, is an interdisciplinary scholar of North American indigeneities, critical media, and sound. In addition to organizing and hosting campus visits by Indigenous elders, activists, artists, and scholars, Tahmahkera has created and taught the graduate seminar Visualizing Indigeneity in the Americas and undergraduate courses Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies, Indigenous Film and Television, and Listening to the U.S.-Mexico Bordersounds.

Tahmahkera's first book Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) foregrounds representations of the indigenous, including Native actors, producers, and comedic subjects, in U.S., First Nations, and Canadian television and other media from the 1930s-2010s within the contexts of federal policy and social activism. His current book project "Comanches in the Media Borderlands" (under contract with the University of Nebraska Press' "Indigenous Films" series) is a cultural history of real and reel Comanches' performative work onscreen and off in the production of what Tahmahkera calls "Comanchería cinema." For more on this research, see his articles "'We're Gonna Capture Johnny Depp!': Making Kin with Cinematic Comanches" in American Indian Culture and Research Journal (UCLA Press) and "Haaka tsa Kwitop Hahka?: Seeking Representational Jurisdiction in Comanchería Cinema" forthcoming in Native American and Indigenous Studies (University of Minnesota Press).

Another project is "Sounds Indigenous: Listening for Sonic Sovereignty in Indian Country" on the transnational and transtribal migrations of sound and music in indigenous homelands and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. On Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017, the site Sounding Out! published Tahmahkera's "Becoming Sound: Tubitsinakukuru from Mt. Scott to Standing Rock," which he developed in the 2017 Faculty Fellows Seminar "Health, Well-being, Healing" at UT's Humanities Institute. For his earlier work in indigenous sound studies, see "'An Indian in a White Man’s Camp': Johnny Cash's Indian Country Music" in the special Sound issue of American Quarterly.

At UT, he serves on the Advisory Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies program. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Cinema Journal, the official journal of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Tahmahkera consults on film projects, curates Indigenous film series, and writes curriculum guides (e.g., LaDonna Harris: Indian 101) for Vision Maker Media and PBS. He also has delivered invited talks, such as the 2017 annual Shaw Lecture in American Studies at Dickinson College, and recently completed a three-year term on the Community Advisory Board of KLRU, the Austin-based affiliate of PBS. 


MAS 374 • Indigenous Film/Television

35665 • Spring 2018
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GWB 1.130
(also listed as AMS 321)

This course critically and creatively engages indigenous representations in cinematic and televisual texts from the 20th and 21st centuries, and engages indigenous critique of those representations through visual studies. Teaching critical thinking and writing skills for interpreting diverse cultural, social, and ideological functions of indigenous representations and media, the course involves critically deconstructing/analyzing and reconstructing/reimagining images and discourses related to how indigenous identities have been historically and contemporarily represented in media.


MAS 392 • Visualizing Indigen: Amers

35735 • Spring 2018
Meets T 3:00PM-6:00PM GWB 1.138

Please check back for updates.

MAS 374 • Indigenous Film/Television

36110 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WEL 3.260
(also listed as AMS 321)


This course critically engages cinematic and televisual productions, portrayals, and perceptions of the indigenous from the 20th and 21st centuries. Teaching critical thinking and writing skills for interpreting diverse cultural, social, and ideological functions of indigenous representations and media, the course involves analyzing the formations of what constitutes indigeneity in film and television in relation to how indigenous identities have been historically and contemporarily produced, represented, and critiqued onscreen and offscreen.

Through the critical framework of visual sovereignty, this course will emphasize the four P’s (productions, portrayals, perceptions, principles) by directors, actors, audiences, and critics in case studies featuring representations of American Indians and other indigenous peoples in such genres as fictional film shorts, feature films, TV drama, TV sitcoms, and documentaries.

MAS 319 • Intro Natv Am/Indig Studies

35990 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BIO 301
(also listed as AMS 315, ANT 310L)

This interdisciplinary course introduces students to issues in Native American and Indigenous Studies, including but not limited to research conducted by affiliate faculty of the Native American and Indigenous Studies program at the University of Texas at Austin. Topics may include indigenous historiography, decolonization, geography, tribal law and policy, education, health, language revitalization, intellectualism, expressive culture, media, and other subjects.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To develop a critical understanding of key topics in Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • To use modes of inquiry applicable to subjects in Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • To gain an understanding of the course content’s importance to historical and contemporary Native America
  • To become proficient in learning how to communicate effectively about Native American and Indigenous issues

MAS F374 • Comanches In Lit And Film

82325 • Summer 2016
Meets MTWTHF 1:00PM-2:30PM GEA 114
(also listed as AMS F321)

Course Description

This course introduces 20th and 21st century literature and film featuring real and fictional Comanches in the Comanchería and U.S.-Mexico borderlands. From silent films to Hollywood and independent productions, from historical fiction to literary analysis, we will compare texts and their diverse portrayals of Comanche identity and intercultural relations. Goals of the course include placing the readings and films into historical and cultural contexts, comparing Comanche, indigenous Mexican, and Anglo representation in literature and film, and strengthening critical reading and viewing skills.


Required Texts (Tentative)

  • Brannum, Julianna (Comanche). LaDonna Harris: Indian 101. 2013.
  • Frankel, Glenn. The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend. Bloomsbury, 2013.
  • Hämäläinen, Pekka. Comanche Empire. Yale University Press, 2008. Select chapters.
  • Meyers, Philipp. The Son. Simon & Schuster, 2013. Select chapters.
  • McMurtry, Larry. Comanche Moon. Simon & Schuster, 2007.
  • Pocowatchit, Rod (Comanche). The Dead Can’t Dance. 2011.
  • Thorshaug, Marthe. Comancheria. 2007.



  • Participation                           20%
  • Reading Engagements               15%
  • Screening Engagements             15%
  • Exam I                                  25%
  • Exam II                                 25%


MAS 374 • Indigenous Film/Television

35275 • Spring 2016
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM CMA 3.114

Please check back for updates.

MAS 392 • Visualizing Indigen: Amers

35365 • Spring 2016
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM CLA 0.120

Please check back for updates.

MAS 374 • Us-Mexico Border Sounds

35190 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM CMA 3.114
(also listed as AMS 321)

COURSE TITLE: U.S.-Mexico Bordersounds

INSTRUCTOR: Tahkahmera, Dustin 


Through interdisciplinary scholarship in sound studies, cultural studies, and popular music, this course critically listens to and analyzes soundways (i.e., interpretive beliefs, modes, and practices concerning sound) and soundscapes in relation to cultural identities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. How, the course asks, does sound matter in and around the borderlands? How are borderland identities sonically and musically represented? How does sound construct, critique, remix, or otherwise complicate perceptions of the borderlands?


Readings by Josh Kun, David Samuels, Dolores Ines Casillas, Roberto Hernandez, Luis Alvarez, Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, Jonathan Sterne, Murray Schafer, and others TBD.


Homework assignments; one major research paper, including research proposal, workshop drafts, peer reviews, and final draft; research presentation; attendance. (This is subject to change)

Curriculum Vitae

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