Daniel C. Swan

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

Department of Ethnology
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
2401 Chautauqua Ave
Norman, OK 73072-7029

Research Interests

Material culture, ritual performance, exchange theory, heritage construction, museum anthropology.  Native North America, The Peyote religion, Cultural property rights.

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 36 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. He retired from the University of Oklahoma in July 2020 and continues to research and publish on the expressive culture of Native North America.

Dr. Swan’s research 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. Building on this exhibition project, Dr. Swan’s has worked for almost a decade ( 1996-2015) to document the expressive culture of Navajo Peyotism.  More recently (2007-2017) he conducted research (with Jim Cooley) on the history of traditional Osage weddings and the incorporation of their material culture into the contemporary “Paying for the Drum Ceremony of the Osage Ilon’shka dances.