“I thought Natives were all living an idyllic country life…”: Students Reconsider North American Indigenous Peoples’ Lives Through Speech, Gender, and Genocide



Drawing on student work produced in a speech communications course, this chapter reveals how genocide education helped change students’ stereotypical imagery of North American Indigenous Peoples. Students synthesized a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities/Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) Colloquium and Andrea Smith’s lecture on American Indian genocide with academic research to write and perform an informative speech. One striking commonality across students’ work was the realization that North American Indigenous Peoples’ experiences can be viewed through a genocide framework. This new awareness helped students to better understand the history of the United States and the lethal implications of the philosophy of Manifest Destiny on Indigenous Peoples’ lives. The chapter shows how combining the development of public speaking skills with the learning of controversial subject matter encourages students’ participation in democratic processes.


North American Indigenous Peoples American Indian Genocide Informal Speech Ethnic cleansingEthnic Cleansing Speaking Course 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Speech and TheatreQueensborough Community College, CUNYBaysideUSA

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