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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 Twelve: Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Rhetorical Strategies for Environmental Protection and Tribal Resistance in the Dakota Access Pipeline Movement (Rachel Presley)


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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Rhetorical Strategies for Environmental Protection and Tribal Resistance in the Dakota Access Pipeline Movement


Who will find peace with the lands? The future of humankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibilities to all living things. Who will listen to the trees, the animals and birds, the voices of the places of the land? As the long-forgotten peoples of the respective continents rise and begin to reclaim their ancient heritage, they will discover the meaning of the lands of their ancestors. That is when the invaders of the North American continent will finally discover that for this land, God is red.


In May 2014, Dakota Access, a subsidiary of natural gas and propane conglomerate Energy Transfer Partners, submitted an application for an oil pipeline project that would cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota. In September 2014, the proposed route was changed to cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation (Hunkpapa Lakota, Sihasapa Lakota, and Yanktonai Dakota) citing the original location as a “high consequence area,” or one deemed to have the most significant adverse effects in the event of a pipeline spill.2 In December 2014, the final application for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was officially submitted to the North Dakota Public Service Commission,...

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