It's all over the news today that the patent office has taken away that patent for the Washington R**S**ns saying the name is disparaging. http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/18/patent-office-cancels-washington-redskins-trademark-155362
For this set of readings you are looking at Phil DeLoria's _Playing Indian_ and an excerpt from _Rethinking Columbus_. You also should be reading around in Debbie Reese's blog, American Indians in Children's Literature. My post here serves to open the space for your comments, and I will post a longer comment before class. I'm hoping that you will take on more of the discussion in class :-)
The two readings are considered to be central to Indigenous rhetorics. In “Rhetorical Sovereignty: What Do American Indians Want from Writing?” Scott Richard Lyons defines rhetorical sovereignty as “the inherent right and ability of peoples to determine their own communicative needs and desires in this pursuit, to decide for themselves the goals, modes, styles, and languages of public discourse” (1130). Lyons provides an overview of why sovereignty matters to Native peoples (and “nation-peoples”) and how rhetorical sovereignty is necessary. In “Down by the River, or How Susan LaFlesche Picotte Can Teach Us about Alliance as a Practice of Sovereignty,” Malea D. Powell asks that we decolonize and do the “difficult intellectual work” (40) needed to create alliances and “work toward the survival of our shared communities” (42). In rhetorical alliance, “if my scholarly survival depends on you, then yours must also depend on me” (42). These concepts of rhetorical sovereignty and rhetorical alliance create a frame for our work in the field.
Lyons spends a significant part of his article discussing sovereignty and how that word/idea has been defined and implemented. He examines the distinct interpretations of nations, particularly in the way they are framed by Western and Indigenous ideologies. Initially to justify their own motives, Europeans needed to recognize Indian nations as sovereign, thus legitimizing land claims (451). As time went on, however, an erosion of Native sovereignty became evident. Linguistically, the terms shifted: nation to tribe, sovereign to ward, treaty to agreement all served the imperialism of the now United States (452-53). Still Native peoples persisted in their exercising sovereignty. Lyons points out that Natives define themselves a “a people” or “a group of human beings united together by history, language, culture, or some combination therein__a community joined in union for a common purpose: the survival and flourishing of the people itself” (454). This idea of a “nation-people,” who understand themselves as inextricably woven into culture, community and land, is distinct from the idea of the “nation-state,” or the way that sovereign Western nations define themselves. Imbedded in the idea of rhetorical sovereignty is the “we.” Lyons suggests the “prioritizing the study of American Indian rhetoric … in our graduate curricula and writing programs” (1143). Students can then examine their relationships to Native peoples (much like your map project).
Extending these ideas, Powell argues that we need to look beyond the narrow reliance on European frames that have shaped our current educational practices. We should not privilege one over the other, but rather allow for the importance of each (42). By using her own experiences (telling stories), she explains how she learned to theorize and writes, “human beings learn to produce texts through both theory and practice, by listening and doing; that ‘successful’ texts are collaborative and are meant for the community, not for the self’ and that through continued textural production the community…survives and gives thanks for its survival” (44). She continues her discussion through the example of Susan LaFlesche Picotte who exemplifies how to engage in rhetorical alliances. We can challenge dominant frameworks (even subversively in our classrooms) so that we work together in the sharing of all contributions.