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Chief Seattle

By proudpaki26 Apr 19, 2011 490 Words
Chief Seattle’s inspirational oration delivered to Governor Isaac Stevens in 1864 is an attempt to manipulate the whites to fairly deal with the Native Americans in regards with their land, despite their inferior status. Although the Indians were separated from their motherland, their spirits are everlasting. Chief Seattle accomplished his purpose through countless rhetorical devices, most notably through establishing his authority, rhetorical questions, and similes.

Chief Seattle begins his speech in a welcoming matter, pleasing the governor and the white’s pride while recognizing their superior status through generating a good reputation. He refers to the governor and president as “The great, and I presume- good White chief…” throughout the piece, hoping the governor will look favorably on his subordination despite the mocking that is hidden in his words. Though the decision is firm for the Natives to be swept off their land, Seattle still praises the white chief. He takes responsibility for the dilemma of the Natives, another strategy that makes him more reputable and commendable to the governor, although he does not necessarily believe that his people are truly at fault. By accomplishing such an act, Seattle gains the respect of the governor, which will in the future help him with his purpose. In yet another attempt to get or remain on the governor’s “good side,” Seattle says that “When our young mean grow angry…it denotes that their hearts are black…” blaming them and not the whites for the warfare and distrust that characterizes the Native American-American relationship. Through establishing his credibility, the chief is able to persuade the governor to treat the tribal people well. Basically, the audience receives a diplomatic but alarming warning by Chief Seattle about the white people taking over their motherland.

In order to further convince the governor and the citizens, Seattle employs rhetorical questions as an attempt to make the reader wonder and empathize. With a question like “How then can we be brothers?” Seattle suggests that the two races cannot interact through a fault of their own. Instead of blaming the whites, he implies that they are just and kind and that the peoples’ lack of friendship is just the way it’s supposed to be. Through stating that question, Seattle conceals the anger he has within himself in order for the whites to become lenient with the Natives regarding their homeland. It compels the audience to empathize his reasoning, a step closer to his purpose. In addition, he states, “…he will protect us. But can that ever be?” addressing specifically to governor Isaac. The affect of this rhetorical question is significant in making the governor consider the decision twice before buying the Native land and pushing them off to the reservations. It brings up what is right and his morals in regards to this injustice. The overall influence of the rhetorical questions puts the governor on the spot, ultimately giving the audience a compassionate view.

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