Neo Aristotelian Analysis Of Chief Sagoyewatha’s Speech To Missionaries; 1805

3232 words - 13 pages

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A Neo-Aristotelian Analysis of Chief Sagoyewatha's ("Red Jacket") Oration to Christian Missionaries, 1805
By Kevin Bertsch
Prepared for Professor Mary Walch COM 3343; CRN 10617 in Rhetorical Criticism
Spring 2014 Semester

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A Neo-Aristotelian Analysis of Chief Sagoyewatha's ("Red Jacket") Oration to Christian Missionaries, 1805
by Kevin Bertsch
Sagoyewatha later dubbed "Red Jacket", because he frequently wore an embroidered coat given
to him by the British as a gift, was a Seneca Chief of the Iroquois Confederacy situated primarily in the
North Eastern part of what is now the United States of America. Founded in the 15th century or earlier
the confederacy was originally comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca
nations. The Five Nations incorporated the Tuscarora tribe in the early 18th century and was thereafter
known as the Six Nations. Extending east to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and as far north as Quebec,
Canada, the Iroquois Confederacy covered approximately 4/5ths of what is now New York State. At the
time that refugees fleeing religious persecution in Europe landed on the shores of North America, the
Iroquois Confederacy had existed as a socio-political entity for more than 300 years. This democratic
union derived its power from a constitution that bound the individual tribes together for mutual support
and protection. Known as the "Laws of the Great Peace", it was this concept of separate political
entities joined together in a democratic union that became the model for the founders of the fledgling
United States to develop the three-branch system of government comprised of the Legislature, Senate
and House of Representatives. (Murphy)
Description of the Artifact
Having sided with the British during the Revolutionary War, in the years after cessation of
hostilities, Red Jacket was instrumental in facilitating peace talks and establishing diplomatic ties with
the newly formed United States Government and the Six Nations. In 1805, a Christian missionary society
from New England requested permission from Red Jacket to proselytize the Iroquois settlements in
northern New York. Led by Jacob Cram, They traveled to Buffalo Creek, New York to meet with the
elders of the Iroquois Confederacy and discuss the request. Red Jacket's speech was highly logical and

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utilized terminology intended to foster consubstantiality between him and the missionaries. During the
oration, he argues that it would be preferable to preserve the status quo and respect each groups right
to practice their faith the way it had been passed down to them from their ancestors. Although very
skillfully and persuasively presented, ultimately, the missionaries rebuffed Red Jacket's attempt to reach
a compromise an added insult to injury by refusing to accept his hand in friendship at the conclusion of
his response.
Description of the Analytical Method
Well known as a skilled orator, Sagoyewatha's name, roughly...

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