Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Lisa Gabbert


Lisa Gabbert


Jeannie Thomas


Melody Graulich


I moved to Moab from another Utah town in the spring of 2005 to train and guide on the Colorado River. Over the course of two summers I rowed or paddled on three Colorado River sections-Fisher Towers, Westwater and Cataract Canyon-as well as Desolation/Gray Canyons on the Green River and the Main Fork of the Salmon River. The next fall, during my first semester of graduate study in folklore, I became interested in studying river guides as a folk group. I wanted to study the formation of "community" based upon both guide and passenger interactions on river trips. However, because I guided commercially and not for research, I decided against trying to study my passengers. Instead, I focused on different aspects of river guide identity, storytelling and why river guides choose to leave the work and lifestyle behind. This thesis has grown out of my search to describe river guide identity but focuses specifically on the creation and performance of shared identity or community through storytelling. In my research I have found that storytelling events, because of their circulation, shared or similar content, and the interposing-interrupting and interjecting-of multiple narrators, create shared identity, a sense of "groupness" or community.