! ! !

CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 27
!
THESIS EXCERPT

WRITING ORALITY: CLAIMING RHETORICAL SOVEREIGNTY
WITHIN ECOLOGIES OF RHETORICS


A Thesis
Submitted to the Faculty
of
Purdue University

by
Emily M. Legg

In Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the
Degree
of
Master of Arts

August 2011
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana!
! ! ! CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 28
ABSTRACT
!
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CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 29
llluslve and Lhe agenL as a dlsplaced sub[ecL. 1hese problems become more apparenL as we
work wlLhln Lhe framework LhaL rheLorlcs exlsLs wlLhln neLworked ecologles raLher Lhan
speclflc locales. 1o address Lhe concerns of Lhe dlsplaced agenL, Lhls Lhesls looks Loward
marglnallzed, oral-based socleLles such as Lhe Cherokee Lo see how Lhey have adapLed Lo Lhe
dlsplaced oral agenL Lhrough Lhe adapLlon of wrlLlng Lechnologles LhaL malnLaln Lhe oral
agenL. ln Lhls way, l wlll explore how Amerlcan lndlans have been able Lo esLabllsh rheLorlcal
soverelgnLy Lhrough enacLed orallLy, LhaL ls, Lhe wrlLlng of orallLy.
llnally, Lhls Lhesls hopes Lo answer many of Lhe crlLlques of rheLorlcal agency wlLh a
look aL how rheLorlcal soverelgnLy ls clalmed wlLhln rheLorlcal ecologles as an alLernaLlve
vlew. l explore how rheLorlcal soverelgnLy focuses Lhe communlLy raLher Lhan Lhe
lndlvldual, and ln Lhls way, acknowledges Lhe plurallLy of ecologles ln ways LhaL rheLorlcal
agency does noL. 1hls leads Lo Lhe creaLlng of a local for rheLorlcal acLlon Lo occur Lhrough a
meLhod of rheLorlcal poslLlonlng by recognlLlon boLh from Lhe lnslde and Lhe ouLslde.
ulLlmaLely, l argue LhaL, by openlng up Lhe rheLorlcal canon and applylng Amerlcan lndlan
rheLorlcs, a Lheory of rheLorlcal soverelgnLy wlll help us as rheLorlclans and composlLlons
address Lhe posLmodern quesLlon of rheLorlcal agency. ln addlLlon, Lhls move creaLes a
communlLy of scholars across lnLerconnecLed dlsclpllnes LhaL can more fully conLexLuallze
ecologles of rheLorlcs and Lhe role of Lhe wrlLer wlLhln.
! ! ! CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 30
CHAPTER TWO: THE ORAL/LITERATE PROBLEM
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! ! ! CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 31
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! ! ! CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 32
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CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 33
WesLern LradlLlon as Lhe body and maLLer exLernal Lo Lhe splrlL, Lo breaLh, Lo speech, and Lo
Lhe logos" (33). 1he exLernallLy of wrlLlng leads Lo Lhese blnarles LhaL have dlsLlngulshed
wrlLlng and speaklng. uerrlda calls for a ºsclence of language [LhaL] musL recover Lhe
!"#$%"&'LhaL ls, Lhe slmple and orlglnal-relaLlonshlps beLween speech and wrlLlng, LhaL ls,
beLween an lnslde and an ouLslde" (33). ?eL, even wlLh Lhls breaklng down LhaL leads Lo
meLhodologles of deconsLrucLlon, wrlLlng ls sLlll LhoughL as an exLernal source from
speaklng. ln dlscusslng ÞlaLo furLher, Cng wrlLes, ºWrlLlng, ÞlaLo has SocraLes say ln Lhe
()"*+%$,, ls lnhuman, preLendlng Lo esLabllsh ouLslde Lhe mlnd whaL ln reallLy can only be ln
Lhe mlnd. WrlLlng ls slmply a Lhlng, someLhlng Lo be manlpulaLed, someLhlng lnhuman,
arLlflclal, a manufacLured producL" (21). 1hls exLernallzaLlon furLhers Lhe noLlon of blnarles
as well as glvlng wrlLlng (and Lhus llLeracy) emlnence as a Lhlng Lo be possessed much ln Lhe
same way we have consLrucLed Lheorles of rheLorlcal agency around.
1he exLernal naLure of wrlLlng can besL be undersLood lf we reLurn Lo prevlous
dlscusslons of Peldegger and wrlLlng as slLuaLed as a Lechnology. Pe remlnds us LhaL
ºLverywhere everyLhlng ls ordered Lo sLand by, Lo be lmmedlaLely aL hand, lndeed Lo sLand
Lhere [usL so LhaL lL may be on call for furLher orderlng" (ºCuesLlon Concernlng
1echnology"17). WrlLlng, ln Lhls way, serves as hls ºsLandlng-reserve" whlch he conLends ls
noL an ob[ecL, raLher Lhe poLenLlal of reveallng and unconcealmenL are presenL as a reserve
(17). WrlLlng Lhen, ls noL [usL an ob[ecL-a Lool-LhaL we adapL Lo and use. lL ls much more
Lhan Lhls. 8uL Lhls sense of wrlLlng as an ob[ecL glves us a false sense of securlLy ln Lhe sense
LhaL wrlLlng remalns neuLral.
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 34
Pavelock, however, expands on concepL of wrlLlng as a sLorage unlL for language. Pe
explalns, ºWhaL one nexL reallzes ls LhaL Lhe Lermlnologles of 'lnformaLlon' and sLorage'-
and also 're-use'-lnsenslbly lmply LhaL whaL ls sLored and re-used ls someLhlng maLerlal: lLs
language musL Lhen somehow be maLerlal also" (Pavelock 36). Whlle Lhe language-Lhe
orallLy-ls noL necessarlly maLerlal, wrlLlng ls. Pe quesLlons Lhe ablllLy of orallLy Lo susLaln a
culLural ldenLlLy due Lo lLs lack of maLerlallLy (36). Pe answers Lhls quesLlon wlLh Lhe
lnvenLlon of Lhe Creek alphabeL malnLalnlng LhaL Lhls ls how and why Lhe Muse learns Lo
wrlLe. As he slLuaLes Pomer as a parL of Lhls phenomenon of creaLlng maLerlallLy ouL of
orallLy, he clalms, ºlf any adequaLe vlsual represenLaLlon of Lhe way prlmary orallLy worked
ls posslble lL ls Lo be found ln Lhe scrlpL Lhey lnvenLed. Pere ln Creek are LexLs LhaL Lruly
'speak.' WhaL Lhey flrsL speak ls llkely Lo be a language shaped acousLlcally for sLorage" (61).
Powever, whaL Pavelock's analysls lmpllclLly (and Lo some exLenL expllclLly) polnLs ouL LhaL
Lhls Lhlngness of wrlLlng ls whaL glve socleLles Lhelr worLh ln llLeracy (36). As l argued before,
wrlLlng as Lhlngness becomes an economlc lssue for Lhose socleLles LhaL lack a LradlLlon ln
Lhe WesLern blnary of speaklng and wrlLlng. 1hey do noL possess wrlLlng, and lf we follow
Pavelock's reasonlng, Lhey have no maLerlal knowledge slnce everyLhlng sLlll belongs Lo Lhe
lmmaLerlal orallLy.

1he Pegemony of WrlLlng and Lhe Lmergence of an CLhered CrallLy
1he exLernal and maLerlal value of wrlLlng has led Lo a hegemonlc relaLlonshlp
beLween wrlLlng and orallLy as we have seen lmpllclL ln Pavelock. !ohn ScenLers-Zaplco
examlnes Lhe Lypes of llLeracles LhaL are creaLed as well as dlscusslng Lhelr dark underslde
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 35
and lmpllcaLlons. Pe wrlLes, ºLlLeracy has a dlrecL and dlchoLomous counLerparL, llllLeracy.
1he preflx here, 'lll,' as ln lll-legal, and lll-begoL lmplles LhaL llLeracy's counLerparL ls slck,
unrecognlzed, or poorly concelved, and Lhe opposlLes are healLhy" (ScenLers-Zaplco 230).
1hls normallzes llLeracy and wrlLlng as belng prlvlleged over orallLy. ln Lhls way, wrlLlng ls
sLlll under Lhe haunLs of modernlsm and colonlallsm. 1hls modernlsm sLrlves for
sLandardlzaLlon as we begln Lo look aL wrlLlng ln forms of sLandard genres ln whlch we can
wrlLe wlLhln. When wrlLlng does noL meeL Lhese sLandards, we LreaL Lhem as a docLor would
LreaL a paLlenL-ºldenLlfy Lhe problem, and Lake acLlon Lo brlng Lhe lll Lo heaLh" (230). Whlle
some may argue LhaL llLeracy ls framed Lhrough a lens of empowermenL (231), llLeracy
becomes more of a Lool of survlval aL Lhe sacrlflce of whaL ls noL consldered a valld llLeracy ln
Lhe WesLern worldvlew. 1hls worldvlew, however, ls sLrucLured along llnes of hegemony
and llnearlLy from polnLs A Lo 8 Lo C wlLh each one belng dlsLlncL and ordered from Lhe
oLher. As uelorla explalns, ºnon-Lrlbals can measure Lhe dlsLance Lo Lhe moon wlLh unerrlng
accuracy, buL Lhe moon remalns an lmpersonal ob[ecL Lo Lhem wlLhouL personal
relaLlonshlps LhaL would supporL or lllumlnaLe Lhelr lnnermosL feellngs" (12). 1hls
dlsconnecL beLween Lhe oral and Lhe wrlLLen breaks down Lhe neLworked concepL of
rheLorlc as l wlll dlscuss ln Lhe nexL chapLer by slLuaLlng wrlLlng wlLh sclence, reasonlng, and
Lhe WesL whlle orallLy ls hlsLorlclzed wlLh Lhe prlmlLlve, naLural, and Lhe CLher. lf we
conLlnue Lo vlew Lhe oral and Lhe wrlLLen as dlsLlncL and ordered, we won'L be able Lo fully
undersLand Lhe ecologles of wrlLlng and of rheLorlcs and undersLand how wrlLlng and orallLy
are noL progresslons buL raLher a parL of and boLh funcLlonlng wlLhln rheLorlcal ecologles
slmulLaneously.
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 36
Powever, before we belng Lo crlLlque Lhls ever-presenL dlchoLomy, we need Lo
explore how orallLy has been vlewed from Lhe WesL. Pavelock, ln Lhe acknowledgemenLs of
!"#$%&'#$(#)*+'$,-$.*/,#, frames orallLy as parL of Lhe ºoral-llLeraLe problem" LhaL lsn'L [usL
a problem for Lhe Creeks buL remalns a modern problem as well (Pavelock lx). 1hroughouL
Lhls LexL, he conslsLenLly refers Lo Lhe crlsls of movlng orallLy Lo a place of llLeracy and
focuses on Lhe WesL as he nearly always assoclaLes orallLy as belng non-WesLern and lacklng
any phoneLlc wrlLlng (63). As Pavelock beglns Lo deflne orallLy as ºa performance of a
person's mouLh, addresslng anoLher person's ear and hearlng wlLh hls own person eaL Lhe
sponLaneous personal reply" (64). 1hls he calls Lhe ºessence of communlcaLlon, a process of
sponLaneous exchange, varled, flexlble, expresslve, and momenLary" (64). Powever, Lhls
meLhod he proposes for undersLandlng orallLy runs lnLo Lhe problem of comlng from a
llLeraLe socleLy and looklng back aL lL from LhaL lens. Pe sees orallLy as a precursor Lo wrlLlng
raLher Lhan a neLworked relaLlon Lo lL. lL conLlnues Lo dlsLance orallLy from wrlLlng. ln LhaL
way, Pavelock malnLalns Lhe dlchoLomy beLween orallLy and wrlLlng. 1hls leads hlm Lo deny
how Amerlcan lndlans have been able Lo reLaln orallLy whlle aL Lhe same Llme he quesLlons
how governmenLs and socleLles could even funcLlon wlLhouL wrlLlng once agaln pushlng
forward Lhe ldea LhaL a llLeraLe socleLy ls one LhaL ls clvlllzed (73). lor hlm, orallLy and oral
sLorage Lhrough rhyLhm and memorlzaLlon (for LhaL's whaL he reduces lL Lo), relegaLes
knowledge sLorlng (noL produclng) Lo Lhe bards, muslclans, and prlesLs (73) and ls casL as
ºsplrlLuallsLlc" (77).
Cng, who ls perhaps besL known for hls dlscusslons of orallLy, frames lL ln much of
Lhe same way as Pavelock. WrlLlng ls assoclaLed wlLh ºwonderful worlds" 0ºCrallLy and
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 37
LlLeracy" 8) and seen as ºenhanclng" (9). Powever, he also remlnds us of Lhe power of
wrlLlng over Lhe oral by sLaLlng, º1hough words are grounded ln oral speech, wrlLlng
!"#$%%&'$((" locks Lhem ln Lo a vlsual fleld forever" (emphasls mlne, 12). CrallLy ls seen as a
connecLlon Lo Lhe pasL and as a slmple dlalecL wlLh only a few Lhousand words (8). ln Lhls
way, boLh Pavelock and Cng conLlnue Lo frame orallLy as oLhered agalnsL wrlLlng. ?eL Cng
beglns Lo break Lhrough Lhls dlchoLomy explalnlng, ºWrlLLen LexLs all have Lo be relaLed
somehow dlrecLly or lndlrecLly, Lo Lhe world of sound, Lhe naLural hablLaL of language, Lo
yleld Lhelr meanlngs.WrlLlng can never dlspense wlLh orallLy" (8). 1here ls a sense ln whlch
wrlLlng wlll never rld lLself enLlrely of orallLy, and we begln Lo see Lhe connecLlons and
relaLlons beLween Lhese Lwo opposlng sLrucLures. Powever, wrlLlng sLlll remalns prlvlleged
over orallLy ln Cng's Lheory as he explalns
WlLhouL wrlLlng, human consclousness cannoL achleve lLs fuller poLenLlals, cannoL
produce oLher beauLlful and powerful creaLlons. ln Lhls sense, orallLy needs produce
and ls desLlned Lo produce wrlLlng. LlLeracy, as wlll be seen, ls absoluLely necessary
for Lhe developmenL noL only of sclence buL also hlsLory, phllosophy, expllcaLlve
undersLandlng of llLeraLure and of any arL, and lndeed for Lhe explanaLlon of
language (lncludlng oral speech) lLself. (14-13)
Looklng aL Cng from Lhe poslLlon of colonlallLy, we see LhaL wrlLlng sLlll, even as lL has a
dependence on orallLy, holds prlvllege over speaklng. 8uL whaL does Lhls do for oral-based
culLures? lL conLlnues Lo sub[ugaLe Lhelr knowledge, Lhelr experlences, and Lhelr rheLorlcs.
1hls poslLlon conLlnues Lo vanlsh Lhe lndlan, erase her hlsLory, and render her wlLhouL a
language or any sorL of agency. lL ls because of Lhese dlchoLomles LhaL we sLlll refer Lo
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 38
anyLhlng oLher Lhan Creek and 8oman rheLorlcs as ºalLernaLlve" and scholars sLlll revere Lhe
rheLorlcal canon as Lhe only opLlon Lo explaln changlng percepLlons of Lhe world. Powever,
Lhls ls noL Lo be confused wlLh Lhe noLlon LhaL oral-based culLures are more aLLuned Lo
prlmacy of orallLy or as a nosLalglc look aL orallLy and LhaL wrlLLen culLures are somehow
allenaLed from Lhls ºflrsL" and ºnaLural" meLhod of communlcaLlon and Lhe word. lnsLead, l
wanL Lo show how nelLher ls prlvlleged above Lhe oLher buL once agaln work ln a neLworked
relaLlonshlp as l wlll explore ln Lhls nexL secLlon.

1he WrlLlng of CrallLy
8aLher Lhan looklng aL wrlLlng and orallLy as dlchoLomles, we can vlew Lhem as
worklng Lhrough and wlLh each oLher as a pracLlce of Mlgnolo's borderLhlnklng. 8reaklng
Lhrough Lhese dlchoLomles helps us seen how Amerlcan lndlans have esLabllshed rheLorlcal
soverelgnLy as a way Lo enacL orallLy wlLhln wrlLlng ln a way LhaL lllusLraLes how orallLy ls
Lechnologlcal as well. ln addlLlon Lo Lhls, we see how orallLy acknowledges Lhe plurallLy of
communlLles, whlch ls also an lnLegral parL of rheLorlcal soverelgnLy and rheLorlcal ecologles.
1o slLuaLe wrlLlng orallLy, we Lurn Lo ChrlsLopher 1euLon who explores how Lhe oral and
wrlLLen blnary ls broken down. 8ulldlng off of Cng as well as uerrlda, ChrlsLopher 1euLon
Lakes a look aL orallLy and wrlLlng from Lhe Amerlcan lndlan's perspecLlve as a way Lo
preserve Amerlcan lndlan culLures LhaL fall ouLslde Lhe convenLlons of wrlLlng (!""#$%&'"()$
27). LxLendlng argumenLs made by uerrlda, 1euLon works Lo esLabllsh an undersLandlng of
Amerlcan lndlan slgnlflcaLlon, whlch engages ln Lwo reclprocal modes of communlcaLlon-
Lhe oral and Lhe graphlc Lhrough a crlLlcal lmpulse (30-31). 1he dlfference beLween Lhe Lwo
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 39
ls LhaL oral dlscourses are ºllvlng forms of culLural knowledge" kepL wlLhln Lhe communlLy
whlle graphlc dlscourses ºrecord LradlLlon for posLerlLy" (32). 1ogeLher, Lhese are held ln
relaLlon by a Lhlrd lmpulse LhaL 1euLon descrlbes as a balance LhaL doesn'L remaln sLaLlc buL
ls seen as always ln flux. 1hls arlses from Lhe consclousness of Lhe communlLy and responds
Lo boLh Lhe oral and graphlc as a need of survlval (34). Powever, raLher Lhan vlewlng all of
Lhese as dlchoLomles, 1euLon explalns, º1he oral and graphlc are noL opposlLes, buL
lnLerpeneLraLlng medla LhaL, broughL lnLo concerL by Lhe crlLlcal lmpulse, allow for a flow of
ldeas LhaL may accounL for LradlLlon as well as lnnovaLlon, lndlvlduallLy as well as
communlLy, memory as well as record" (34-33). ln Lhls way, Lhe crlLlcal lmpulse acLs as a
way Lo decolonlze Lhe graphlc and oral lmpulses as lL breaks down Lhe poLenLlal for
hlerarchy creaLed by vlewlng wrlLlng as a llnear progresslon from Lhe oral. AnoLher way Lhe
crlLlcal lmpulse decolonlzes wrlLlng ls by recognlzlng sysLems and ecologles of
communlcaLlon ln whlch Lhe oral, graphlc, and crlLlcal lmpulse are all a parL of. AnoLher shlfL
ls LhaL communlcaLlon, and even agency, does noL place responslblllLy on Lhe lndlvldual as
an agenL. 8aLher Lhls creaLes a communlLy-cenLered approach as a meLhod of communal
survlval when ldenLlLy has been sLrlpped from LhaL communlLy. ln Lhls way, Amerlcan lndlan
rheLorlcs, as 1euLon explores, focuses more on Lhe communlLy and a sense of We-ness LhaL
ls more aLLuned Lo Lhe naLure of rheLorlcal ecologles. We can vlew Lhls as dlsLlncL from a
WesLern poslLlon LhaL hlsLorlclzes Lhe lmporLance of Lhe lndlvldual-an l-ness-LhaL Lakes
away from Lhe naLure of rheLorlcal ecologles.
ln order Lo fully undersLand Lhe oral, graphlc, and crlLlcal lmpulse of communlcaLlon,
we can look aL early Cherokee wrlLlngs posL-conLacL wlLh Lhe whlLes as a way Lo deconsLrucL
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 40
Lhe shlfL from Lhe oral Lo Lhe graphlc. noL only does Lhls help us undersLand how orallLy can
be wrlLLen, lL also helps lllusLraLe of Lhe ecologles of Lhe oral and wrlLLen are all Lechnologlcal
as well as rheLorlcal. 1hls move-Lhe hybrldlzaLlon Lhrough wrlLlng orallLy-ls Lhe vehlcle ln
whlch rheLorlcal soverelgnLy ls enacLed as l wlll show laLer ln Lhls chapLer. 1o begln, leL us
look aL Lhe hlsLorlcal conLexL LhaL foregrounds Lhe conLacL beLween oral and wrlLLen culLures
and Lhe lmmedlaLe producLs of LhaL conLacL Lhrough Lhe early (and l use LhaL Lerm loosely)
wrlLlngs of Lhe Cherokee.
uurlng Lhe lndlan removal process of Lhe laLe 1800s, Lhe unlLed SLaLes wenL abouL
creaLlng a reglme of asslmllaLlon Lhrough forced removals and Lhe sLarL up of lndlan
boardlng schools LhaL sLrlved Lo ºklll Lhe lndlan and save Lhe man." 1en years prlor Lo Lhe
lndlan 8emoval AcL of 1830, Sequoyah, a monollngual Cherokee, creaLed a wrlLlng sysLem
for Lhe Cherokee language noL based on any WesLern wrlLlng LradlLlon buL perhaps even on
Lhe anclenL Anl-kuLanl (1euLon, ºueep WaLers" 4). 1hls Cherokee wrlLlng sysLem ls based on
syllables raLher Lhan lndlvldual leLLers LhaL graphlcally slgnlfy each full sound as lL ls
pronounced ln Cherokee. ln descrlblng Lhe process of alLerlng Lhe Cherokee scrlpL for Lhe
prlnLlng press, Lllen Cushman explores Lhe lmporLance of Lhe ºCherokeeness" of Lhls wrlLLen
language. She wrlLes, ºAL boLh Lhe vlsual and llngulsLlc levels for Cherokee audlences, Lhen,
Sequoyan ln prlnL would have reLalned lLs aura as a wrlLlng sysLem because lL Lraces vlsually
Lo Lhe orlglnal longhand and llngulsLlcally Lo LradlLlon" (637). WhaL Lhls means ls LhaL Lhe
aura, ln Lhe 8en[amln sense, of Lhe spoken language would have been encapsulaLed ln Lhls
wrlLLen word. Language, for Lhe Cherokee, has always been Lhelrs wheLher spoken or
wrlLLen. 1he LranslLlon from speaklng Lo wrlLlng ls recorded durlng Lhls Llme Lhrough a
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 41
collecLlon of soclal documenLs from 1862 forward ln Lhe book !"#$%"&'()$(*$%#+,(-&",
complled and LranslaLed by !ack lrederlck and Anna CrlLLs kllpaLrlck, who LogeLher wroLe
several books abouL Lhe Cherokee language as well as Cherokee Lales. ln Lhelr preface, Lhe
kllpaLrlcks remlnd us of noL only Lhe lmporLance of Lhe Cherokee llngulsLlc LradlLlon, buL also
Lhe welghL of lLs dlsappearance:
Cne reads over and over, for example, LhaL wlLh asLonlshlng rapldlLy Sequoyah's
people became llLeraLe afLer hls conLrlbuLlon was made avallable Lo Lhem. Seldom
ln prlnL ls one remlnded of Lhe sad LruLh LhaL Sequoyah's syllabary and Lhe whooplng
crane sLand ln approxlmaLely Lhe same relaLlonshlp Lo obllvlon. (kllpaLrlck vlll)
1hese LexLs LhaL Lhey have preserved Lhen are lnvaluable ln Lerms of rheLorlcal scholarshlp.
noL only do Lhey allow us Lo analyze Lhe beglnnlngs of a wrlLLen culLure slLuaLed ln an oral-
based one, buL sLudylng LexLs llke Lhese help us esLabllsh a Lheory of orallLy LhaL boLh
exLends and compllcaLes vlews of orallLy ln such LheorlsLs as 1euLon.
Looklng Lhrough a dusLy copy of !"#$%"&'()$(*$%#+,(-&" LhaL lncludes a collecLlon
of soclal documenLs of Lhe Cherokee from 1862-1964 LhaL were complled by Lhe kllpaLrlcks, l
noLlced LhaL Lhe ma[orlLy of Lhese leLLers had a sLrlklng wrlLLen paLLern. MosL leLLers, and
especlally Lhe older ones, relled heavlly upon Lhe word ºnow" aL Lhe sLarL of each new
secLlon even lf lL dldn'L flL conLexLually. A brlef glance down Lhe page broughL my aLLenLlon
Lo Lhls fooLnoLe: ºWhlle ."&/$Pas a varleLy of meanlngs, lL ls mosL commonly used ln wrlLlng
Lo preface a new LhoughL. 1here are oLher words ln Cherokee for 'now' used ln Lhe
adverblal sense" (º1he Shadow" 3). l Look Lhls fooLnoLe for whaL lL was and moved on. lL
wasn'L unLll l was looklng Lhrough anoLher collecLlon by Lhe kllpaLrlck LhaL l Look noLlce of
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 42
Lhe use of Lhls ºnow." ln Lhelr book !"#$%&'%()*+%,)*#- whlch ls a collecLlon of love
lncanLaLlons of Lhe Cklahoma Cherokee, Lhe use of ºnow" ls profuse. ln Lhls LexL, Lhe
kllpaLrlcks explaln Lhe use of ºnow" ln much more depLh:
1he º./"01" wlLh whlch Lhe ma[orlLy of Cklahoma Cherokee con[uraLlons and
lncanLaLlons begln ls an lnLer[ecLlon LhaL could be LranslaLed ln a number of ways-
ºALLenLlon!" or ºPear Lhls!" or ºWell!" for example-buL ºnow!" appears Lo us Lo be
Lhe mosL approprlaLe renderlng. lL ls noL rlLuallsm, lL ls generously employed ln
workaday wrlLlng and conversaLlon for Lhe purpose of prefaclng a new LhoughL.
(ºWalk" 18-19)
1hls syllable ºgha" or ln Cherokee !, whlle LranslaLed lnLo Lngllsh as ºnow" ls essenLlally an
unLranslaLable uLLerance ln LhaL Lhere ls no Lngllsh equlvalenL Lo whaL lL acLually means, buL
raLher carrles a slgnlflcaLlon LhaL produces a meanlng. ! ls rarely used as any parL of word
formaLlon. 8aLher, Lhe alLernaLlve ", whlch ls also pronounced ºgha," ls used ln spelllng and
word formaLlon.
WhaL does Lhls all slgnlfy? And how are Lhe oral and graphlc broughL lnLo balance?
1hls ls where rheLorlcal soverelgnLy can be seen aL work as lL becomes a way Lo enacL orallLy
wlLhln rheLorlcal ecologles of boLh Lhe oral and Lhe wrlLLen. 1hrough Lhls analysls, we can
surmlse LhaL when Sequoyah was creaLlng Lhe Cherokee syllabary, he creaLed a speclflc
symbol, !, for Lhe purpose of lnLroduclng new LhoughLs. ln oLher words, ! was an
lmporLanL enough flgure of speech LhaL lL deserved lLs own symbol. lL becomes a Lrace of
orallLy ln wrlLLen form. We can see how lL ls used ln Lhe followlng excerpL of a leLLer wrlLLen
by a young ConfederaLe soldler named 1se:gh(l)slnl on !uly 20, 1862 Lo hls near-relaLlves:
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 43
l:no:ll, allow me Lo wrlLe you aL Lhls Llme, Sunday evenlng. l am geLLlng along well.
now! A few days ago l send you a leLLer glvlng you permlsslon Lo geL Lhe haL.
l forgeL Lo Lell you Lo leL me know qulckly lf you were able Lo do whaL l asked you Lo
do[.]
now! l also wanL Lo know how Lhose qulLe a few slck aL home are geLLlng
along. We belleve LhaL someone has gone Lo search for someone. ?ou Lell me LhaL,
Loo.
now! lor us Lo vlslL you ls a hopeless slLuaLlon, even Lhough we do wanL Lo
vlslL you[.]
now! now l have [usL sLopped wrlLlng. l hope LhaL you are well v:ghlnl:ll
l:no:lle, and all of your famlly[.]
now! l greeL you Lhls evenlng from far away. now! l, 1se:gh(l)slnl, [usL
scrlbbled Lhls. l am well. ?ou also, l suppose. Pow are all Lhe women aL home
geLLlng along? very well?
now! l greeL you Lhls evenlng. (qLd. ln º1he Shadow" 7-9)
1hls leLLer, much llke many of Lhe oLher leLLers ln Lhls collecLlon, ls noL only a gllmpse lnLo
everyday language beLween Cherokees, buL also capLures Lhe use of ! ls wrlLLen Cherokee.
Powever, whaL ls lnLeresLlng abouL Lhls leLLer ls lLs awareness Lo Lhe wrlLLen form of Lhls
communlcaLlon. 1hls leLLer ls wrlLLen only forLy years afLer Lhe Cherokee adopLed
Sequoyah's wrlLLen syllabary. noL only does lL show Lhe reach of Cherokee wrlLlng durlng
Lhls Llme, buL also lLs sLyle ls much akln Lo speaklng. 8oLh of Lhese puL Lhls LexL ln close
proxlmlLy Lo speaklng. 1hls sLyle of wrlLLen communlcaLlon conLlnues Lhrough Lhls
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 44
collecLlon up unLll Lhe lasL leLLer wrlLLen ln 1962, alLhough lL ls used wlLh less frequency. 1hls
symbol Lhen becomes a resldual of Lhe oral ln wrlLlng-lL ls Lhe wrlLlng of orallLy coded ln Lhe
syllabary. 1hls codlng susLalns a place where Lhe Cherokee enacL orallLy as a means of
malnLalnlng Lhelr oral LradlLlons wlLhln a Lechnology LhaL ls conflaLed wlLh a dlsLanclng of Lhe
oral and wrlLLen blnary. Powever, as we see here, enacLlng orallLy leads Lo rheLorlcal
soverelgnLy. ln order Lo explore Lhls furLher, we need Lo look aL how Lhls uLLerance ls used-
LhaL ls, how lL funcLlons rheLorlcally as well as Lechnologlcally.
Slnce Lhe uLLerance ! doesn'L easlly LranslaLe and doesn'L seem Lo have any deflned
meanlng, we can look aL how Lhe word ls used. As Lhe kllpaLrlcks noLed, Lhe word ls used Lo
lnLroduce new LhoughLs. We can see ln Lhe above leLLer LhaL lL acLs ln Lhe same way Lhe
beglnnlng of a new paragraph would acL. Powever, lL seems Lo be more Lhan [usL a
puncLuaLlon marker. ln order Lo explore Lhls uLLerance more, Lhe kllpaLrlcks have also
complled a collecLlon of love lncanLaLlons of Lhe Cherokee. Accordlng Lo Lhe kllpaLrlcks,
Lhese love lncanLaLlons are parL of Lhe maglcal LexLs of Lhe Cherokee LhaL were used mosLly
by medlclne men and women by also by Lhe common layperson. 1hese were wrlLLen down
any place LhaL Lhere was free space. Whlle Lhey are ofLen referred Lo as sacred formulas,
Lhe kllpaLrlcks explaln LhaL Lhls Lerm does noL descrlbe Lhese maglc LexLs. 1hey explaln:
1he Cherokee deslgnaLlon for one of Lhelr LexLs, !"#$%&"'(!, ls a far more meanlngful
Lerm, for mosL Cherokee maglcal rlLuals conslsL of someLhlng LhaL one says (or
merely Lhlngs) or slngs, called Lhe !"#$%&"'(! (ºLo say one"), and some recommended
physlcal procedudes, called Lhe )#*"+,&-(.! (ºLo do, one"), alLhough some have no
!#*"+,&-(.! aL all. (ºWalk" 3)
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 45
1he maglcal LexLs have Lhe same sLrucLure LhroughouL-each one sLarLlng wlLh ! followed
by Lhe name of a splrlL plus Lhelr rlLuallsLlc color, Lhe locaLlon of Lhe splrlL, and a sLaLemenL
of Lhe splrlLs omnlpoLence (6). 1he followlng ls an example of a Lyplcal maglc LexL:
now! LlsLen!
8ed 8aven!
very qulckly you have come Lo hear.
?ou Þlace of Þeace ls Above.
?ou fall ln noLhlng. (qLd. ln ºWalk" 133)
1hese maglcal LexLs acL as a sorL of lnvocaLlon, remlnlscenL of Lhe 8oman CaLhollc Mass, buL
only serves as a vehlcle Lo whaL ls acLually belng performed Lhrough LhoughL. 1he kllpaLrlcks
explaln:
ln any maglcal rlLual all generaLlve power reslde ln Lhe LhoughL, and Lhe !"#$%&"'(!,
whlch focuses and dlrecLs LhaL LhoughL, alone ls lnvlolaLe. 1he !#)"*+&,(-!, whlch
merely augmenLs Lhe auLhorlLy of LhoughL, or serves more effecLlvely Lo apply or
dlssemlnaLe lL, may be expanded, curLalled, alLered, or dlspensed wlLh enLlrely ln
conformlLy wlLh personal preference, speclal clrcumsLances, or Lhe broad general
prlnclples LhaL govern Cherokee medlco-rellglous pracLlce. (3)
ln oLher words, noL only are Lhese lncanLaLlons merely vehlcles for LhoughL, Lhe words
Lhemselves don'L hold speclflc slgnlflcaLlon. 1here ls noL a correcL phrase or senLence LhaL
one needs Lo speak even lf Lhe formula remalns Lhe same.
Clven Lhese varled examples of Lhe uLLerance !, we can only assume LhaL Lhls word
ls used ln wrlLLen everyday LexLs buL also rlLuallsLlc LexLs. lL ls can be wrlLLen or spoken.
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 46
Whlle lL has no real LranslaLable meanlng, lL ls commonly LranslaLed across Lhe board as
ºnow!" So whaL ls Lhls word!"#$%&? Slnce ! ls boLh oral and wrlLLen, we can puL Lhls
uLLerance ln conversaLlon wlLh Lhe Creek undersLandlng of Lhe relaLlonshlp of spoken words
Lo Lhe Aoyoç (Logos)-Lhe Word. WhaL does lL mean LhaL ! brlngs meanlng lnLo exlsLence
and lnLo Lhe maLerlal world and how does Lhls connecL back Lo a Lheory of rheLorlcal
soverelgnLy?
Peldegger's readlng of PeracllLus provldes us wlLh an lnslghLful vlew of early Creek
orallLy and whaL Lhe pre-SocraLlc meanlng of Logos mlghL slgnlfy. Pe explalns LhaL Aoyoç has
been LranslaLed as ºcosmlc law, as Lhe loglcal, as necesslLy ln LhoughL, as meanlng and as
reason" (ºLarly Creek 1hlnklng" 60). Powever, he reads PeracllLus' undersLandlng of Lhe
Logos as lL relaLes Lo Lhe \cyctv and how \cyctv came Lo mean saylng and speaklng. Pe
clalms LhaL Aoyoç ls ºln lLself and aL Lhe same Llme a reveallng and conceallng" (71) and LhaL
Lhe \cyctv, meanlng a laylng, ºconcerns lLself solely wlLh Lhe safeLy of LhaL whlch lles before
us ln unconcealmenL, Lhe gaLherlng approprlaLe Lo such a laylng ls deLermlned ln advance by
safekeeplng [.] Saylng and Lalklng occur essenLlally as Lhe leLLlng-lle-LogeLher-before- of
everyLhlng whlch, lald ln unconcealmenL, comes Lo presence" (63). Pls compleLe argumenL
for Lhls more nuanced undersLandlng of boLh Lhe Aoyoç and Lhe \cyctv as PeracllLus uses
Lhem glves us a comparable undersLandlng of whaL ! may be dolng rheLorlcally. Pe
concludes LhaL, for PeracllLus, Lhe Aoyoç ls Lhe º8elng (presenclng) of belngs" and ºLhe
Laylng LhaL gaLhers" (76). Pe conLlnues wlLh asklng
WhaL happens when Lhe 8elng of belngs, Lhe belng ln lLs 8elng, Lhe dlsLlncLlon
beLween Lhe Lwo as a dlsLlncLlon, ls broughL Lo language? [.] Language would be
CROUSE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION:: PROMISING SCHOLAR: LEGG 47
saylng. Language would be gaLherlng leLLlng-lle-before of whaL ls presenL ln lLs
presenclng [.] Lhe Creeks would have LhoughL Lhe essence of language from Lhe
essence of 8elng-lndeed as Lhls lLself. (76-77)
ln Lhls sense, ! works as Lhe slgnal for Lhls Lype of relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe Logos for Lhe
Cherokee. lL acLs as Lhe unconcealmenL of Lhe Logos. lL brlngs Lhose meanlngs lnLo
exlsLence aL LhaL polnL ln Llme. lL carrles Lhe essence of language lnLo Lhe maLerlal, spoken
world. ln Lhls way, early Cherokee wrlLlng becomes a case sLudy for 1euLon's Lheory of Lhe
oral, graphlc, and crlLlcal lmpulse of communlcaLlon. lL can also help us esLabllsh a Lheory of
rheLorlcal soverelgnLy as lL creaLes a meLhod of culLural survlval Lhrough orallLy. 8y acLlng as
boLh oral and wrlLLen, Lhls symbol helps us see how orallLy as belng boLh rheLorlcal and
Lechnologlcal ls enacLed. 1he Cherokee, ln Lhls sense, have creaLed a space of rheLorlcal
soverelgnLy as Lhese oral Lechnlques as wrlLlng are noL seen as belng someLhlng prlmlLlve or
naLural, buL LhaL Lhey are always already Lechnologlcal. When Lhls becomes Lhe sLyle or way
of belng for a people such as Lhe Cherokee, Lhey are able Lo enacL rheLorlcal soverelgnLy as a
move Loward self-deLermlnaLlon. ln addlLlon, we can now slLuaLe Lhe breakdown of Lhe oral
and wrlLLen blnary as someLhlng ecologlcal slnce Lhey are boLh exlsLlng LogeLher and noL Lled
Lo a llnear progresslon from one Lo Lhe oLher. lL ls lmporLanL now Lo undersLand how Lhese
rheLorlcal ecologles funcLlon lf we are really Lo geL Lo Lhe hearL of why rheLorlcal soverelgnLy
ls boLh necessary Lo negoLlaLlng rheLorlcal ecologles as well as undersLandlng how
Lechnology ls always already presenL wlLhln Lhese ecologles. lor LhaL, l wlll explore how
oLhers have slLuaLed rheLorlcal ecologles ln Lhe nexL chapLer as well as explaln how we have
come Lo a ºproblem" of agency ln Lhe flrsL place.
67

6
7

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