The Native American Oral Tradition: Voices of the Spirit and Soul

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Einhorn, a rhetorical scholar, explores the rich history of the Native American oral tradition, focusing on stories, orations, prayers, and songs. Because American Indians existed without written language for many generations, their culture was strongly dependent on an oral tradition for continuity and preservation. Not surprisingly, they spent many hours perfecting the art of oral communication and learning methods for committing their messages to memory. Einhorn thoroughly examines the important aspects of this unique oral tradition from a rhetorical perspective, covering individual speakers, nations, and time periods.

In the first half of the book, the author examines how the Native American oral tradition has affected their cultural assumptions, principles, values, beliefs, and experiences. These chapters focus primarily on characteristics of the Native American oral tradition that transcend individual nations. The second half of the book includes translated transcripts of representative speeches, stories, prayers, and songs. In accessible and compelling prose, Einhorn discusses the sanctity of the spoken word to Native Americans, concluding that their oral tradition helps to account for the survival of their people and their culture.

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Cultural Assumptions Reflecting and Refining the Oral Tradition
Imbuing the Earth with Imagery
Speeches of Peace and Protest

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About the author (2000)

LOIS J. EINHORN is Associate Professor of Rhetoric at Binghamton University. She is author of Abraham Lincoln the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Greenwood, 1992), Helen Keller, Public Speaker: Sightless but Seen, Deaf but Heard (Greenwood, 1998), and many articles and book chapters. She has won several major awards for outstanding teaching.

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