Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1996


In the Western Apache discourse community, landscape is not just the realm of nature in its sheer physicality. Neither are places in the landscape to be read as metaphors. Rather, places, visual things by reason of their identification with aspects of social hierarchy are literally giving moral messages, are imploring people to live right. This phenomenon operates in many if not all Native American rhetorics, though the content of the cultural texts, the specific moral message, varies among communities. And because the context essential to interpreting the messages is part of the shared knowledge of the discourse community, the "Other" cannot hear them. Unlike Western rhetorics that privilege product over process and discourse over silence, and that assign to the speaker/writer responsibility for meaning-making, Native American rhetorics are listener responsible. The process of identifying with another discourse community, that is, of acquiring its shared knowledge, is lengthy and requires great patience.



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