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Decolonizing Native American Rhetoric

Communicating Self-Determination


Edited By Casey Ryan Kelly and Jason Edward Black

As survivors of genocide, mnemonicide, colonization, and forced assimilation, American Indians face a unique set of rhetorical exigencies in US public culture. Decolonizing Native American Rhetoric brings together critical essays on the cultural and political rhetoric of American indigenous communities, including essays on the politics of public memory, culture and identity controversies, stereotypes and caricatures, mascotting, cinematic representations, and resistance movements and environmental justice.

This volume brings together recognized scholars and emerging voices in a series of critical projects that question the intersections of civic identity, including how American indigenous rhetoric is complicated by or made more dynamic when refracted through the lens of gender, race, class, and national identity. The authors assembled in this project employ a variety of rhetorical methods, theories, and texts committed to the larger academic movement toward the decolonization of Western scholarship. This project illustrates the invaluable contributions of American Indian voices and perspectives to the study of rhetoric and political communication.

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Chapter Three: Melancholic Mirages and Ethopoeic Enemies: Reconsidering Temporality in Canada’s Apologies to First Peoples (Lee M. Pierce)


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Melancholic Mirages and Ethopoeic Enemies

Reconsidering Temporality in Canada’s Apologies to First Peoples


Will native Canadians be any more willing to accept temporizing from a popular Liberal prime minister than from all the previous leaders who made promises they couldn’t keep?


After two centuries of shared responsibility for the genocidal system of Indian Residential Schools in Canada, the federal government and national churches finally began issuing long-awaited apologies in 1986. But the one million First Peoples2 whose lands and cultures remain under occupation still await what those apologies have repeatedly promised: mutual respect, shared sovereignty, and the return of stolen lands.3 First Persons and indigenous allies in academia and the media argue that Canadian churches and the federal government have been able to “temporize” the fulfillment of such promises in part because their statements of reconciliation have reconstructed historical temporality for the sake of buying more time for the status quo; the statements both temporize and temporalize.4 More specifically, these “official apologies”—especially Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic 2008 apology for the “sad chapter” in history—have confined the abuses of colonialism to the past tense in order to ensure that genocide remains culturally operative long after doors have closed.5 Yet despite the repeated criticisms exemplified in the opening epigraph, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recently elected Liberal government has continued to quarantine the ← 78...

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