Communication 398N

The Rhetoric of Native America

Spring 2005




Instructor:                  Jason Edward Black                  Telephone:    301-219-7850

Class:                         M, 3:30p-6:30p TYD 1102          E-mail:              

Office Hours:              M, 1:00p-3:00p                          Office:            Skinner 2102 



Required Readings:


(V)       Vanderwerth, W.C. Indian Oratory: Famous Speeches by Noted Indian Chieftains (Norman, OK: U of Oklahoma P, 1979).


(N)       Nabokov, Peter. Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of White-Indian Relations from

Prophecy to the Present, 1492-2000 (New York: Penguin Books, 1999). 


(M)     Moquin, Wayne and Charles Van Doren. Great Documents in American Indian History

(New York: De Capo Press, 1995).


(I)       Internet Sites – if link disappears, please find the discourse somewhere else online


(H)       Handouts as required


All books are available at the Maryland Bookstore.  I requested the ordering of paperbacks and used copies to save on book expenses.





(YG)    Join our course YahooGroup at: DNativeAmerica



Course Description:


This course is a historical-critical survey of Native-American public discourse from the American Paternal age (beginning with English reign) to the Postmodern/Media era (1980s-present).  By examining primary texts (e.g., speeches, manifestos, stories, narratives, and memoirs) within their historical contexts, we will explore the rhetorical strategies and ideas employed by Native-Americans to enact social change and to constitute community in the face of grave exigencies.  We will spend the majority of our time discussing Native response to, and mobilization against, elite discourse.  Also, however, some primary materials will be examined (e.g., Andrew Jackson's Second Message to Congress; the Dawes Act; Cherokee Nation v. Georgia) to build the context for the Native rhetoric that forms the nucleus of the course.


The course is divided into several historical periods including: the American Paternal age, Indian Removal, Allotment, Assimilation era, Reorganization epoch, Termination era, Self-Determination period, the American Indian Movement, water/resource rights, Natives in the Media, the mascot controversy, Thanksgiving protests, and the reparations and repatriation controversies.   


Keep in mind that the temporal and spatial divisions I have imposed on this material are (more or less) subject to debate.  However, these divisions help us to identify and make sense of changes in political and cultural contexts.



Grading Scale:


A=4.00; A-=3.667; B+=3.333; B=3.00; B-= 2.667; C+=2.333; C=2.00; C-=1.667; D+=1.333; D=1.00; D-=.667; F=0


To calculate grades, multiply the point value of your grade (i.e., B=3.00) times the percentage of the assignment (i.e., 25%=.25). Do this for each grade, and then add up the sums.  Compare that number to the scale above to find out your final letter grade.

Note: Students choosing to "take an F" by not turning in an assignment will actually get an "I" (or incomplete) for the assignment.  If 20%, or more, of your final grade amounts in an "I" you will fail the course. 



Course Evaluation:


Critical Evaluation #1                                        10%


Critical Evaluation #2                                        20%


Critical Evaluation #3                                        20%


Final Project                                                     


-          proposal                                                10%

-          bibliography                                          10%

-          analysis                                                30%   


Participation                                                      used for "in betweens"



Course Assignments:


All assignments submitted for credit (critical evaluations, particularly) should be identifiable only by the last four digits of your Social Security number.  Do not put your name on any assignments you turn in; they will not be accepted.  This helps facilitate equity and fairness.



Critical Evaluations                                           


Each student will complete three critical evaluations of a Native-American rhetor previously studied during the course up to that given week.  Students are expected to analyze the chosen text using the rhetorical tools learned in class, up to that point.  Each paper should be 3-5 pages, and must include a discussion of rhetor, context, and audience before delving into analysis of the text. The critical evaluations will serve as a practice assignment for the larger project due at the semester’s end.   


Final Project                                                     


Throughout the semester, students will select a topic from an assigned list to research and present to the class.  The topics will involve 21st century Native American campaigns, issues, concerns, points of confrontation, and discourses.  The final project provides that students find two Native rhetors (individuals, organizations, groups, movements, associations, etc.) and analyze at least two pieces of discourse from each rhetor.  This accounts for four pieces of rhetoric.  Then, students will analyze these texts using at least two rhetorical tools taught in class.


The project unfolds in three stages:


First, students will draft a proposal including the rhetorical tools/terms to be used, the pieces of discourse to be studied, and possible implications of the final project. An assignment sheet will be distributed for this portion of the project.


Second, students should come up with a bibliography including the four pieces of discourse along with any secondary sources (book, Internet, journal articles, news articles, etc.) used in researching the topic and rhetor.  The bibliography should include a total of 8 sources (4 text; 4 secondary).  An assignment sheet will be distributed for this portion of the project.


Third, students should then report their findings in an 8-10 page analytical paper.  The paper must include a discussion of rhetor, context, and audience.  Also, students should integrate quotations from both the discourse being analyzed and the secondary materials.  Be sure to employ at least two rhetorical tools. An assignment sheet will be distributed for this portion of the project.


Special Note:  Computers crash, get viruses, and fail to work at the most critical times.  It is your responsibility to turn in assignments on time.  If this means performing your work days in advance to account for last minute errors or retyping a paper in a time of crisis, so be it.  Late papers will not be excused.  I learned this the hard way, so I pass along my wisdom: do not start your work at the last minute, work on a reliable computer (UMD has plenty of labs), and always back-up or save your work.   



PROJECT TOPICS – a maximum of two students per topic will be allowed


1. mascot controversy                                        10. Supreme Court cases (e.g., COBELL)

2. repatriation of ancestral remains                    11. Native identity issues

3. Native American women                               12. reparations of ancestral land

4. Natives in movies and advertisements            13. AIM today 

5. citizenship issues                                            14. Native media

6. enviro/hunting/fishing/water rights                  15. Native education

7. tourism/casinos                                             16. Native social programs

8. Native arts                                                    17. Rez Life today       

9. Columbus Day Protests                                  18. Indian humor

                                                                        19.  Open Topic – get approval




I will keep an on-going log of student participation.  This mechanism is not meant to denigrate shy or quiet students; it is designed to promote class discussion and to demonstrate that students have read the assigned readings.  Attendance will figure into this grade for the "in betweens," or when a final mark is on the border between two letter grades (see below). 


Classroom Preparation/Attendance:


Students are expected to complete the readings in advance of class. This is a large seminar, but we will conduct classroom discussion.  Students should take notes on lectures, multimedia, Power Point slides, and classroom discussion. 


Attendance will follow the University policy for Spring courses.  Attendance is absolutely required for this course.  I will take roll on a daily basis, and absences will count against students’ participation progress. Students are responsible for any material missed due to their absence.  It is not the responsibility of the instructor to seek students out in order to provide information lost due to absence.  The instructor suggests that students missing class sessions seek notes, lecture items, etc. from their peers.  Power Point slides will be provided only in exceptional cases, such as emergencies. 





As reprinted from the University Undergraduate Catalog, the mark of "I" (Incomplete) is an exceptional mark that is an instructor's option.  It is given only to a student whose work in a course has been qualitatively satisfactory, when, because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control, he or she has been unable to complete some small portion of the course's work.  In no case will the mark "I" be recorded for a student who has not completed the major portion of the work of the course.



Code of Academic Integrity:

As reprinted from the University Undergraduate Catalog: The University is an academic community. Its fundamental purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. Like all other communities, the University can function properly only if its members adhere to clearly established goals and values. Essential to the fundamental purpose of the University is the commitment to the principles of truth and academic honesty. Accordingly, The Code of Academic Integrity is designed to ensure that the principle of academic honesty is upheld. While all members of the University share this responsibility, The Code of Academic Integrity is designed so that special responsibility for upholding the principle of academic honesty lies with the students.

Academic Dishonesty: any of the following acts, when committed by a student, shall constitute academic dishonesty: Cheating: intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise. Fabrication: intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to violate any provision of this Code. Plagiarism: intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in any academic exercise.

Academic dishonesty is a corrosive force in the academic life of a university. It jeopardizes the quality of education and depreciates the genuine achievements of others. It is, without reservation, a responsibility of all members of the campus community to actively deter it. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of academic dishonesty is not a neutral act. Histories of institutions demonstrate that a laissez-faire response will reinforce, perpetuate, and enlarge the scope of such misconduct. Institutional reputations for academic dishonesty are regrettable aspects of modern education. These reputations become self-fulfilling and grow, unless vigorously challenged by students and faculty alike.

All members of the University community, students, faculty, and staff share the responsibility and authority to challenge and make known acts of apparent academic dishonesty.

The University has a nationally recognized Honor Code, administered by the Student Honor Council.  The Student Honor Council proposed and the University Senate approved an Honor Pledge.  The University of Maryland Honor Pledge reads:

I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination.

Unless you are specifically advised to the contrary, the Pledge statement should be handwritten and signed on the front cover of all papers, projects, or other academic assignments submitted for evaluation in this course.  Students who fail to write and sign the Pledge will be asked to confer with the instructor.


As reprinted from the University Undergraduate Catalog: The University of Maryland values the diversity of its student body and is committed to providing a classroom atmosphere that encourages the equitable participation of all students. Patterns of interaction in the classroom between the faculty member and students and among the students themselves may inadvertently communicate preconceptions about student abilities based on age, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. These patterns are due in part to the differences the students themselves bring to the classroom. Classroom instructors should be particularly sensitive to being equitable in the opportunities they provide students to answer questions in class, to contribute their own ideas, and to participate fully in projects in and outside of the classroom.

Of equal importance to equity in the classroom is the need to attend to potential devaluation of students that can occur by reference to demeaning stereotypes of any group and/or overlooking the contributions of a particular group to the topic under discussion. Joking at the expense of any group creates an inhospitable environment and is inappropriate. Moreover, in providing evaluations of students, it is essential that instructors avoid distorting these evaluations with preconceived expectations about the intellectual capacities of any group.


Students with Disabilities:

Students with specific disabilities (permanent or temporary, physical or learning) needing special accommodation during the semester should make an appointment to meet with the instructor in Room 2102 of the Skinner Building to discuss such accommodations during the first week of class.


Inclement Weather:

In the event of inclement weather, students are to read as planned for the class missed.  The instructor will email lecture notes for inclement days on the actual day missed.  Students are responsible for reading these lecture notes.  During the next meeting day, the class will discuss what was missed. The instructor will then condense all other material for that day.


I follow the University policy on absences, that is, absences are excused for illness, family tragedy, or special circumstance -- all of which must be documented with a note. If an unexpected "event" occurs, call or email me immediately and leave a message.  Excuses will not be given ex post.  For more, see above.



Jason's Rules:


(1)    Anything you turn in to me should be typed and double-spaced.


(2)    Feel free to speak your mind in class, but practice rhetorical sense and sensibility by respecting other students' rights.


(3)    I encourage you to open a debate with others or me in class; the caveat is that for every claim you make - provide evidence and reasoning! J


(4)    Please avoid all ethnocentric, sexist, ageist, homophobic, racist, and demeaning language. 


(5)    Relax, I don't bite.  If you have questions or need assistance, please ask me.   


(6)    I operate my classes from the standpoint that both students and the instructor are colleagues.  That is, I hope to learn as much from you as you (hopefully) will from my lectures and examples.  With this said, I expect you to participate in class. 


(7)    I employ a blind grading policy to promote equity and fairness.  Do not be personally offended by low or poor grades, or critical remarks.  I am critiquing your work, not you or your identity. 




Course Schedule:




Mon.  1/31

Paternal Era


Course Introduction



1. Public Address Model


2. Preparing Readings


3. US-Indian Relations & Paternalism


Mon. 2/7

Paternal Era


Myth Criticism


1.  Pontiac, "You Must Lift the Hatchet Against Them," V, p. 25


2.  Big Tree, Cornplanter & Half-Town, "Letter to President Washington," M, p. 129.


3. Cornplanter, "Listen to Me Fathers of the Thirteen Fires," V, p. 33


4. Tecumseh, "Sleep No Longer, O Choctaws and Chickasaws," V, p. 61


5. Tecumseh, "We Must Be United," N, p. 95


6. Pushmataha, "We Do Not Take Up the Warpath," V, p. 71


Mon. 2/14

Removal Era


Metaphoric Criticism


1. Video: Empire Upon the Trails


2. Jackson, "Indian Removal Speech," online at http://www. AnnualMessage.htm  Read starting at header, "Removal Nearly Complete"


3. Speckled Snake, "Response to Andrew Jackson," M, p. 149


4. Black Hawk, "For More than a Hundred Winters," V, p. 85


5. Coacooche, "Surrender of a Seminole Band," M, p. 156.


6.  Kanakuk, "Why the Indians Will Not Give Up Their Land," M p. 146


Mon. 2/21

Removal Era


Collective Memory



1. Osceola, "Osceola Determined," N, p. 124


2. Seattle, "The Indians' Night Promises to be Dark," V, p. 118


3. Chief John Ross, "The Cherokee People Stand Upon New Ground," V, p. 109


4. Culberson, "Tushpa Crosses the Mississippi," N, p. 152


5. Nabokov, "Living Beside Each Other," p. 69-72; and "Long Resistance," p. 90-95


Mon. 2/28

Rez Life & the Indian Wars

1. Video: Fight No More Forever


2. Nabokov, "The Treaty Trail,+" N, p. 117; and "The Nation's Hoop is Broken," N, p. 170


3. Black Kettle, "We Want the Privilege," V, p. 133


4. Crazy Horse, "We Prefer Our Way of Living," V, p. 215


5. Cochise, "You Must Speak Straight," V, p. 151


6. Sitting Bull, "I Feel That My Country Has Gotten a Bad Name," V, p. 227


7. Bent, "Eyewitness to Sand Creek Massacre," M, p. 191







Mon.  3/7

Rez Life & Indian Wars


Narrative Criticism


1. Geronimo, "I Was Living Peaceably," V


2. Wooden Leg, "Young Men, Go Out," N, p. 106


3. Chief Joseph, "Son, Stop Your Ears" N. p. 129


4. Nabokov, "Very Small Islands," N, p. 187


5. Palaneapope, "How Indians are Victimized," M, p. 195


6. Two Moons, Battle of Little Big Horn,” M 226 


Mon. 3/14

Allotment Era and Assimilation Era



1. Video: Geography of Hope


2. Nabokov, "The Flood Has Come," N, p. 232


3. Sloan, "The Reservation System," M, p. 290


4. John Stands in Timber, "Half White and Half Indian," N, p. 244


5. Nabokov, "Hearts on the Ground," N, p. 256; and "To Learn Another Way," N, p. 213


6. Annie Lowry, "Annie Makes Her Choice," N 


7. Duncan, "How Allotment Impoverishes," M, p. 286


Mon. 3/21


Have fun and be safe!!!


Mon. 3/28

Assimilation Era


Ideographic Criticism


1. Video: Ghost Dance


2. Kicking Bear, "I Bring You Word from Your Fathers the Ghosts," V


3.  Red Cloud, "Ghost Dance Excitement," M, p. 263


4. Sun Elk, "He is Not One of Us," N, p. 221


5. Sweezy, "We Had Everything to Learn," N, p. 207


6. Talayesva, "The Reservation School," M, p. 278


7. Montezuma, "Let My People Go," M, p. 301


Mon. 4/4

Reorganization Era & Termination





1.  Nabokov, "20th Century Indian Voice," N, p. 275; "Interlude of Hope," N, p. 304; and "In and Out of the Mainstream," N, p. 332


2. Rupert Costo, "Resisting the Indian New Deal," N, p. 324


3. "IRA Debate," N, p. 327


4. Fredenberg, "Indian Self Determination," M, p. 309


5.  Drums Committee, "The Menominees are Terminated," N, p. 344


6. Spade and Bearskin, "On Relocation," N, p. 348


7. Becenti, "Problems of Off-Rez Employment," M, p. 326


Mon. 4/11

Self-Determination Era

& Early American Indian Movement


1. Nabokov, "Let's Raise Some Hell," N, p. 355; and "So Long as the Land Exists," N, p. 381


2.  Albert, Wesley, and Johnson, "Whither the American Indian," M, p. 330


3. Little Star, "Going Back," N, p. 388


4. Asa Bazhonoodah, "Dark Sky Over Black Mesa," N, p. 397


5. Nabokov, "It's Hard to be An Indian," N, p. 404


6. McNickle, "Indian Tests the Mainstream," M, p. 347


7. Monongye, "Importance of Keeping the Land," M, p. 334







Mon.  4/18

American Indian Movement


1. Social Movement Criticism                       



1.  Bellecourt, "Birth of AIM," N, p. 372


2.  Video, "Spirit of Crazy Horse"


3.  Indians of All Tribes, "Planning Grant," M, p. 374


4. "Trail of Broken Treaties," online at ggc/trailofbrokentreaties.html  Skim this one.


5. Vizenor, "Confrontation or Negotiation," N, p. 376


6. Fortunate Eagle, "Invading Alcatraz," N, p. 367 



Mon. 4/25

Natives & 21st c. Protest



1.  Black, "The Mascotting of Native America: Construction, Commodification, Assimilation," H


2. Northrop, "Before and After Gambling," N, p. 420


3. Fixico, "Sovereignty Revitalized," N, p. 422


4.Combra, "Restoring Life to the Dead," N, p. 425


5. N. Scott Momaday, "Confronting Columbus Again," N, p. 437


6. Thanksgiving Protest: "UAINE and the Plymouth Day of Mourning," H


Mon. 5/2

Natives & Media Rep’s


Media/Ideological Crit

1. Video: Pocahontas


2. Ono and Buescher, "Deciphering Pocahontas: Unpacking the Commodification of a Native Woman," H


3. Native slide show


4. Nabokov, "Towards a Native Millennium," N, p. 441


Mon. 5/9


1.  Discuss Final Projects


2.  Jason presentation on Sacagawea Gold Dollar/commemoration


3.  Iraqi Country and "Savage" Insurgents: A New Indian Frontier?


Mon. 5/16