I am a PhD candidate in the History department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am on fellowship from the Graduate School for the Fall 2021 semester. My dissertation is a cultural history that examines the colonial, settler colonial, and commercial histories of Native American music. I am particularly interested in the ways that Euro-American practices of recording “Indian” performance with new media technologies (as a written description published in a book or a groove etched into a phonograph record) were embedded within ideologies and institutions of colonial expansion in North America. At a broad level, I aim to amplify the choices and strategies facing Native American peoples engaging with Euro-American recording practices that isolate and extract sound from emplaced, embodied cultural expressions. My overarching goal for this research is to bring Indigenous cultural expression into scholarly discourses on the political economies of race, music, and new media in American history and culture.


  • PhD candidate, U.S. History, University of Wisconsin-Madison (current)
  • MA U.S. History, UW-Madison (2018)
  • BA History/Philosophy, UW-Madison (2008)
  • Research interests: Native American and Indigenous histories, sound studies, (settler)colonialism, histories of capitalism, historical memory, technology & culture, histories of new media


  • History 101 – North America to the Civil War (2x)
  • History 102 – Modern U.S. History since the Civil War (2x)
  • History 109 – Making of the American Mind
  • ILS 201 – Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy
  • History 460 – American Environmental History
Guest lecture for William Cronon’s American Environmental History 460 (Fall 2020)


Listicle I wrote about nature and the environment in 20th century recorded music, published in Edge Effects: a digital magazine Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies


Lecture notes for “Changing Landscapes of Native Wisconsin,” guest lecture written and recorded for environmental historian William Cronon’s American Environmental History 460 course (Fall 2020)


UW-Madison history department profile: https://history.wisc.edu/people/kivi-thomas/