Introduction to “Rhetoric and American Indians” Ernest Stromberg
Ernest Stromberg begins his introduction to “Rhetoric and American Indians” with an explanation of why the concept of American Indian Rhetorics is so complicated. Not only is the term rhetoric a contested term with multiple meanings, so is “Indian.” In fact, he points out how Vizenor claims that “Indian” is nothing more than a trope invented by colonizers, which has made the word/concept/representation of Indians nothing but a simulacrum. Stromberg claims that the very limitations of rhetoric is one of the issues addressed in this collection. He claims that in order to understand American Indian rhetorics, we must expand our conception of rhetoric. Thed efinition of rhetoric at the foundation of this collection is “the use of language or other forms of symbolic action to produce texts (in the broadest possible sense) that affect changes in attitudes, beliefs, and actions of an audience” (4). In this sense, Stromberg claims, American Indian rhetoric is an art of persuasion but it also an art of espistemic because it uses language to alter the way we understand the world. One really interesting point that Stromberg raises is that American Indian speakers are in the constant process of “discovering and applying another’s ‘available means of persuasion’ (4). Stromberg notes that for much of American Indian History, the exigency of American Indian rhetoric has been the need to establish their equal humanity with Europeans to an audience that deems themselves superior to American Indians(5). This collection, in part, demonstrates how post-contact American Indian rhetorics have bridge communication gap by appropriating the language, styles, and beliefs of white audiences in order to establish consubstantiality (6). Stromberg claims this collection also aims to make the contemporary Indian presence known–a move necessary to alter the perpetuated notion that the Indian has vanished….