Native American Studies

American Indian Rhetorics of Survivance: Word Medicine, Word by Ernest Stromberg

By Ernest Stromberg

American Indian Rhetorics of Survivance offers an unique serious and theoretical research of yankee Indian rhetorical practices in either canonical and formerly neglected texts: autobiographies, memoirs, prophecies, and oral storytelling traditions. Ernest Stromberg assembles essays from more than a few educational disciplines that examine the rhetorical techniques of local American orators, writers, activists, leaders, and intellectuals.

The members contemplate rhetoric in wide phrases, starting from Aristotle's definition of rhetoric as “the college . . . of gaining knowledge of within the specific case what are the on hand technique of persuasion,” to the ways that local americans assimilated and revised Western rhetorical suggestions and language to shape their very own discourse with ecu and American colonists. They relate the ability and use of rhetoric in treaty negotiations, written money owed of old conflicts and occasions, and ongoing family members among American Indian governments and the United States.

This is a groundbreaking assortment for readers attracted to local American concerns and the examine of language. In offering an exam of prior and current local American rhetoric, it emphasizes the necessity for a far better knowing of multicultural perspectives.

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Conceding Indians’ right to the lands they possess, he wrote, “the dignity and interest of the nation will be advanced by making it the basis of the future administration of justice toward the Indian tribes” (Prucha 12–13). In a report that followed in July, Knox more clearly expressed the humanitarian policy he envisioned, reflecting America’s culture of sensibili- RED JACKET’S RHETORIC 21 ty and its sense of human perfectibility through the cultivation of good taste. ” Embracing an idea of progress that served the United States’ benevolent self-image, the secretary of war refused to accept the possibility of failure: “[T]o deny that, under a course of favorable circumstances, it could not be accomplished, is to suppose the human character under the influence of such stubborn habits as to be incapable of melioration or change—a supposition entirely contradicted by the progress of society, from the barbarous ages to its present degree of perfection” (American State Papers: Indian Affairs, 1: 53).

Secretary of War Henry Knox, in his report of June 15, 1789, on the Northwestern Indians—that is, the Native people of the Old Northwest— clearly articulated this “sensible” policy designed to redound to the credit of the United States. ” Entertaining for a moment a calculating, “abstract view of the question,” which might accept a “just war” argument, Knox tallied the costs in men and money required to conquer the Indians of the Wabash, and he found that price too high. But with a moderated sensibility, Knox rejected such a policy not primarily because of its expense but because, he argued, it defied justice and humanity.

Even earlier, Secretary of War Henry Dearborn wrote to New York Governor George Clinton recommending such a pardon should the defendant be convicted, and the governor indeed complied with Dearborn’s and the jury’s wishes. Technically, Stiff-Armed George’s conviction signaled a failure for Red Jacket in his efforts to assert Seneca independence, yet clearly he prevailed by pitting federal and state governments against each other, and by appealing to some New York citizens to take his side against their fellow (if unsavory) citizens.

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