Elias Boudinot (Cherokee)
    (c. 1802-1839)

    Contributing Editor: James W. Parins

    Classroom Issues and Strategies

    Boudinot seeks to and succeeds in breaking the stereotype of the Indian established by Irving's "Traits of Indian Character" and other writing that established the Indian as uneducated and shiftless.

    Two major issues that interest students are cultural discontinuity and the position of minorities in American culture.

    Major Themes, Historical Perspectives, and Personal Issues

    Major themes include the perceptions of minorities by the dominant society, the role of the government in protecting the minorities against the majority, and the social responsibilities of the majority toward minorities.

    Significant Form, Style, or Artistic Conventions

    In many ways, Boudinot is using "standard" methods of persuasive discourse in use at the time. Students should examine his oratorical and rhetorical devices including diction and structure.

    Original Audience

    It is important to stress that Boudinot was trying to persuade his white audience to take a particular course of action.

    Comparisons, Contrasts, Connections

    Boudinot was writing in the oratorical mode used by mainstream writers at the time. Compare with works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and Chief Seattle.

    Questions for Reading and Discussion/ Approaches to Writing

    Students should explore the historical situation in which the address was written, should do comparative studies, and should examine rhetorical and oratorical devices.


    See any history of the Cherokees.