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Communication | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Journalism Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Katie Johnson, Communication


The Cherokees are among the most well-known Native American tribes in the United States today, largely because of their removal from Georgia along the Trail of Tears. Most American history books depict them as down-trodden victims, yet the Cherokees version of the pivotal events of 1831, as found in their newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, indicates otherwise. The rhetorical strategies used by Elias Boudinot, editor of the Phoenix, in his column suggest that the Cherokees were active players in their own fate. Through the use of contrasting images, irony and logos, and by discrediting the language of paternalism, Boudinot attempted to empower his Cherokee readers and gain sympathy from northern whites. Because of the Cherokees' social history of nonviolence, Boudinot probably attempted to empower them to nonviolent action, as historical evidence from the time suggests. Although the Cherokees were unsuccessful in their ultimate goal – to remain on the land of their forefathers – they left behind a record of their struggle in the pages of the Cherokee Phoenix.