Daniel C. Swan

Associate Curator of Ethnology, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma

Division of Ethnology
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
2401 Chautauqua Ave
Norman, OK 73072-7029
dcswan (at) ou (dot) edu

Research Focus

Peyote Religion in diverse tribal and community contexts, Peyotism of the Osage Indian community, traditional and fine art traditions associated with Peyotism, and the creative process of song composition and musical performances during ritual ceremonies

Academic Summary

Dr. Daniel Swan received his PhD from the University of Oklahoma in 1990, where he received training and experience in intensive fieldwork techniques and the design of collaborative research projects with Native American communities. Dr. Swan is a ethnologist who has spent his career working in a variety of museum settings, including the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Gilcrease Museum. He joined the staff at the University of Memphis in 2003, as the Director of Chucalissa Museum. As a museum anthropologist, Dr. Swan has worked over the past 25 years to inform a broad public on topics and themes associated with Native American history, culture, and language through exhibitions and their associated publications and programs. In 2007 he joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma and the curatorial staff of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Swan’s research has focused on the history and expressive culture of the Peyote Religion in diverse tribal and community contexts. His dissertation research, conducted in collaboration with the Osage Indian community, provided the first comprehensive treatment of Peyotism from the point of initial trial and acceptance to its maximum geographic and demographic diffusion. In 1999, Dr. Swan curated the national traveling exhibition, “Symbols of Faith and Belief: The Art of the Native American Church,” that examined the traditional and fine art traditions associated with the religion. Dr. Swan’s current research is focused on the musical performances that are central to the religious ceremony of Peyotism. Working in Navajo communities in Arizona and New Mexico, he is documenting the creative process of song composition and musical performances during ritual ceremonies.

Recent Publications

Jordan, Michael Paul and Daniel C. Swan,  “Tipis in the Warrior Tradition”, in, ed., Nancy Rosoff, Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains. Brooklyn Museum and University of Washington Press. 2011

Swan, Daniel C. and Michael Paul Jordan. “Painting a New Battle Tipi: Public Art, Intellectual Property and Heritage Construction in a Native American Community. Plains Anthropologist. 2011

Swan, Daniel C.  “Objects of Purpose–Objects of Prayer: Peyote Boxes of the Native American Church”.  Museum Anthropology Review 4 (2)156-189. Bloomington. http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar, 2010

Swan, Daniel C.  “The North American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea Willd Pers.) – Sacred Food of the Osage. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 8:249-53. http://www.ethnobotanyjournal.org/, 2010

Swan, Daniel C. “Native American Traditional Arts and Architecture.” In Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma City; Oklahoma Centennial Commission, 2004.

Bailey, Garrick, and Daniel C. Swan. Art of the Osage. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

Swan, Daniel C. “Osage Dancing Societies and Organizations.” In Art of the Osage, edited by Garrick Bailey and Daniel C. Swan, 156-94. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

Swan, Daniel C. “The Osage Peyote Religion.” In Art of the Osage, edited by Garrick Bailey and Daniel C. Swan, 108-35. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

Swan, Daniel C. “Beading Lakota Style. ” Gilcrease Journal 11, no. 2 (2003); 32-46.

Morrand, Anne, Kevin Smith, Daniel C. Swan, and Sarah Erwin, eds. Treasures of Gilcrease. (Revised & expanded edition). Tulsa, OK: Thomas Gilcrease Museum Association, 2003.

Swan, Daniel C. “Peyote Arts at Gilcrease Museum: A Systematic Collection.” American Indian Art Magazine 24, no. 2 (1999): 36-45.

Swan, Daniel C. Peyote Religious Art. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.

Swan, Daniel C. “Early Osage Peyotism.” Plains Anthropology 43, no. 163 (1998): 51-71.


Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

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