Scholarly considerations of the relationship between the United States government and Native Americans have largely ignored the rhetoric utilized by both in the course of their ongoing conflicts. This fascinating new study concentrates on the persuasive and public strategies of both government and Indian leaders, focusing on the written and oral records of several key episodes in American history. This approach, which author Janice Schuetz calls rhetorical ancestry reveals the ways in which government and Indian spokespersons have constituted and defined issues; created, prolonged, and managed conflict; and silenced and empowered each other's voices.
Chronicling the emergence of government and Indian leaders who were forced to deal with conflicts in new ways, each chapter makes use of historical evidence to draw inferences about the rhetorical features of the discourse and its effects. Both verbal and nonverbal rhetoric—including treaties, letters, oral histories, speeches, ritual performances, media reports, biographical narratives, protests and demonstrations, political hearings, and legal proceedings—are represented here, illuminating a legacy that evolved in the personal and political language of its participants.