NAME_________________________ Period. ________
Literary Non-Fiction: Speeches
Repetition is the repeated use of the same word or phrase—usually for emphasis.
Parallelism is the repetition of similar words, phrases, sentences, or grammatical structure.
Shows that ideas are related or equally important.
Helps to stress a phrase or idea.
Aphorisms are expressions of an opinion or a general truth.
Epigraphs are a quotation from the beginning of a book, chapter, or section of a book, used to emphasize a point and usually related to the theme.
Reading Skill: Comparing and Contrasting:
Writers often make their points by comparing and contrasting subjects. (Noting their similarities and differences)
Not everyone agrees on what we should teach or on how it should be taught. Often what is considered important to learn depends on where and when we’re living. For example, the speech and letter that follow were written before Native American cultures received much respect from European Americans. Native American leaders have had to argue that their culture, language, history, and way of life are useful knowledge.
In the 1700s, the British and the French were competing for land and resources in North America. English colonists thought that by offering Iroquois boys the chance to attend the university in Virginia, they would convince the Iroquois to support their side. Chief Canasatego of the Onondaga Tribe was an influential leader in the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of tribes in the upper New York State area.
In 1927, Mayor William Hale Thompson of Chicago raised a protest against school textbooks he believed presented history in a way that was prejudiced in favor of Great Britain. The mayor wanted to revise textbooks to be what he called
“100 percent American.” The members
of the Grand Council Fire of American Indians—led by its president Scott H. Peters, a Chippewa Indian—wanted to point out that the British were not the only group portrayed inaccurately in textbooks. They wrote a letter asking the mayor to change texts to reflect the perspectives and accomplishments of Native Americans. They wore full ceremonial dress and war paint when presenting the mayor with their letter.
Chief Canasatego, 1744 North America
We know you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in these
colleges. And the maintenance of our young men, while with you,
would be very expensive to you. We’re convinced, therefore, that you
mean to do us good by your proposal, and we thank you heartily. But
you who are so wise must know that different nations have different
conceptions of things. And you will not, therefore, take it amiss1 if our
ideas of this kind of education happens not to be the same with yours.
We have had some experience of it. Several of our young people were
formerly brought up in the colleges of the northern province. They were
instructed in all your sciences. But when they came back to us, they were
bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to
bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a
deer, or kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, and therefore
were neither fit for hunters nor warriors nor councilors. They were
totally good for nothing. a
We are, however, not the less obliged for your kind offer, though we
decline accepting. To show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of
Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in
their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.
1:take it amiss: be offended.
obliged : grateful or indebted.
decline : to politely refuse
esteem :. to regard with respect
The Grand Council Fire of American Indians December 1, 1927
The First Americans
To the mayor of Chicago:—
You tell all white men “America First.” We believe in that. We are the
only ones, truly, that are 100 percent. We therefore ask you while you are
teaching school children about America First, teach them truth about the
We do not know if school histories are pro-British, but we do know that
they are unjust to the life of our people—the American Indian. They call
all white victories, battles, and all Indian victories, massacres. The battle
with Custer1 has been taught to school children as a fearful massacre on
our part. We ask that this, as well as other incidents, be told fairly. If the
Custer battle was a massacre, what was Wounded Knee?2
History books teach that Indians were murderers—is it murder to
fight in self-defense? Indians killed white men because white men took
their lands, ruined their hunting grounds, burned their forests, destroyed
their buffalo. White men penned our people on reservations, then took
away the reservations. White men who rise to protect their property are
called patriots—Indians who do the same are called murderers. b
White men call Indians treacherous—but no mention is made of
broken treaties on the part of the white man. White men say that Indians
were always fighting. It was only our lack of skill in white man’s warfare
that led to our defeat. An Indian mother prayed that her boy be a great
medicine man3 rather than a great warrior. It is true that we had our own
small battles, but in the main we were peace-loving and home-loving. c
White men called Indians thieves—and yet we lived in frail skin lodges
and needed no locks or iron bars. White men call Indians savages. What
is civilization? Its marks are a noble religion and philosophy, original arts,
stirring music, rich history and legend. We had these. Then we were not
savages, but a civilized race.
We made blankets that were beautiful that the white man with all
his machinery has never been able to duplicate. We made baskets that were beautiful. We wove in beads and colored quills, designs that were not just decorative motifs, but were the outward expression of our very thoughts. We made pottery—pottery that was useful and beautiful as well. Why not make school children acquainted with the beautiful handicrafts in which we were skilled? Put in every school Indian blankets, baskets, pottery.
We sang songs that carried in their melodies all the sounds of nature— the running of waters, the sighing of winds, and the calls of the animals. Teach these to your children that they may come to love nature as we love it.
We had our statesmen—and their oratory has never been equalled. Teach the children some of these speeches of our people, remarkable for their brilliant oratory. We played games—games that brought good health and sound bodies. Why not put these in your schools? We told stories. Why not teach school children more of the wholesome proverbs and legends of our people? Tell them how we loved all that was beautiful. That we killed game only for food, not for fun. Indians think white men who kill for fun are murderers. d
Tell your children of the friendly acts of Indians to the white people who first settled here. Tell them of our leaders and heroes and their deeds. Tell them of Indians such as Black Partridge4 ,Shabbona 5 and others who many times saved the people of Chicago at great danger to themselves. Put in your history books the Indian’s part in the World War. Tell how the Indian fought for a country of which he was not a citizen, for a flag to which he had no claim, and for a people that have treated him unjustly. e
The Indian has long been hurt by these unfair books. We ask only that our story be told in fairness. We do not ask you to overlook what we did, but we do ask you to understand it. A true program of America First will give a generous place to the culture and history of the American Indian.
We ask this, Chief, to keep sacred the memory of our people.
1. Custer: George Armstrong Custer (1839–1876), a U.S. cavalry officer who fought Sioux
and Cheyenne warriors at Little Bighorn; Custer was killed and his army was wiped out.
2. Wounded Knee: a creek in South Dakota where U.S. troops massacred about 200
Native Americans on December 29, 1890.
3. medicine man: a Native-American holy man and healer.
4. Black Partridge: a Potawatomi chief who befriended white settlers.
5. Shabbona (shäPbI-nE): a member of the Ottawa people who befriended white settlers
Analysis: Literary Non-Fiction:
Structure/Organization: What organizational pattern do the authors use? (Support with text evidence) “Educating Sons” and “The First Americans”
Purpose: What conclusions can you make about the purpose of these speeches based on the organizational patterns?
Reread lines 10–15. What phrase is repeated in these lines? What word is repeated?
Reread lines 16–19. What point does Chief Canasatego make in the conclusion of his speech? What words does he use to emphasize this?
Reread lines 6-23. According the Grand Council Fire, what do textbooks teach about Native Americans compared to White Americans? What is the purpose of pointing this out?
Reread lines 39-54. Identify the phrase that the Grand Council Fire repeats. What does this repetition help emphasize?
Unit 7: Assignment 3