Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Stephen Wood


This thesis examines the rhetoric of Wilma Mankiller, first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Although some research has addressed Native American oratory, this study is the first to this writer’s knowledge, that critically evaluates the public discourse of Mankiller. This analysis reveals a distinct relationship in the characteristics of the rhetoric of Wilma Mankiller that are inherent in the unique cultural heritage of Native American oratory.

A study of Native American oratory in general, a study of Cherokee oratory, and a study of the rhetoric of Wilma Mankiller were conducted. This analysis employed the neo-Aristotelian approach in order to evaluate the public discourse of Mankiller. The rhetoric of Mankiller manifests characteristics germane to the rhetoric of some of her Native American predecessors. The findings of this examination lead to some conclusions that identify characteristics that are distinctive of the rhetoric of Wilma Mankiller.



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