Christina Thomas, 2020 MPS Showcase

Christina ‘Dawa Kustmana’ Thomas is Numu [Northern Paiute], Newe [Western Shoshone], and Hopi [Tobacco Clan]. She grew up on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation in Wadsworth, Nevada and is an enrolled member of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony. Christina graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelors of Arts in Music and a Minor in Biology. Christina is a second year PhD student in the Native American Studies Department and earning a Designated Emphasis in Performance. She is a performer (vocalist), dancer, composer, historian, cultural protector, and language warrior.

As a recognized community leader Christina has actively been a part of community-based Numu arts and language revitalization projects since 2005, primarily through documenting and performing traditional songs and stories to awaken her sacred language. Her primary fields of study are historical musicology, Paiute Language regeneration, and performance. Christina’s research amplifies Numu ways of doing music history — privileging Numu knowledges and language regeneration — as a means to Indigenize music studies curriculum.

Thanks to UC Davis Humanities Institute Christina has been working in partnership with Mellon Public Scholars and the University of Nevada, Reno, to continue work on Numu Hoobea [Our Dances] that she began recording in 2019. The Great Basin Song & Story Project (GBSSP) is a historical musicology project rooted in community-based methodologies. Christina gathered, created, and shared song-based research. The GBSSP incorporates equal parts historical/archival and performative/engaged research methodologies, all of which will be Numu-led and community-based. This collaborative and public arts+humanities project aims to amplify Numu histories and practices, long assumed lost or silenced, to advance community health and well-being via narratives of resurgence.

Due to COVID-19 Christina was not able to interview Elders histories regarding a Numu cultural resurgence immediately following the settler colonial banning of Numu cultural practices between 1844-1931. Christina also plans to record the dances that accompany her songs. This project is not complete and Christina hopes to continue the GBSSP as a multi-volume/practice work. She plans to distribute the audio/interviews/dance components to other Numu communities across the Great Basin. She would then like to draft and produce a critical edition Numu song book that will be transcribed, translated, and drafting Numu-led analytical essays. These recordings and critical edition will be significant for historical musicology, as one of a few Indigenous-led and Indigeneity-centered works, but also for Numu people as many Numu Hoobea/Nugadu [Paiute songs and dances] have been lost.

Basket Song (Liner Notes):

Eagle Mountain:

Red, White, & Blue:

Swan Song:

Whitecaps on Water:


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