Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

Factionalism as Argumentation: A Case Study of the Indigenous Communication Practices of Jemez Pueblo

Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

Factionalism as Argumentation: A Case Study of the Indigenous Communication Practices of Jemez Pueblo

Article excerpt

Argumentation, as western societies know it, has its roots in ancient Greece and became the foundation of contemporary democratic processes (Amossy, 2002; Aune, 1999; Braet, 2004; Schiappa, 1992; Timmerman, 1993; Wenzel, 1990). There is no question that Greco-Roman perspectives influenced how argumentation has been studied and practiced in western societies for over two thousand years. (1) Contemporary studies of argumentation and debate reflect these underlying assumptions. For example, argumentation provides knowledge (Bruschke, 2004; Buchanan, 2001; Crable, 1982), argumentation takes form (Arthos, 2003; Chichi, 2002; Gilbert, 2002; Warnick & Kline, 1992), and argumentation functions in society (Hauser & Benoit-Barne, 2002; Hicks, 2002; Jovicic, 2004; Sproule, 2002; Welsh, 2002). As we can see clearly by looking at nonwestern examples of argumentation, the Greco-Roman influence shapes the standards by which "we evaluate arguments from any perspective" (Wenzel, 1990, p. 19).

These Greco-Roman perspectives commonly are used as the basis for comparative studies involving nonwestern cultures, particularly Asian and Native American societies. Scholars have described Asian cultures, paying particular attention to early forms of debate and describing western influences on their argumentation (Branham, 1994; Garrett, 1993, 1994; Jensen, 1992; Yang, 2002). Noncommunication studies have explored the sociological and historical aspects of Native American societies, including limited discussions of communication styles, comparing them with those of western cultures (Berkhofer, 1965; Fordham, 1993; Furniss, 2004; Sachs, 2002). Of particular interest have been the rhetorical traditions of specific Native American groups (Carson, 2002; Einhorn, 2000; Garroutte, 2003; Lubbers, 1994; Perhnutter, 1989; Robyn, 2002; Sanchez, 2001; Wilkins, 2002).

While no studies have examined argumentation and debate styles among Native American societies specifically, a few have explored consensus-building and conflict management. For the most part, these studies have contrasted a western model or perspective with the practices of a Native American society. Sachs, Harris, Morris, and Hunt (1999) broadly discussed how colonialism disrupted the ability of American Indians to make collective decisions and negotiate with the U.S. government. Harris, Sachs, and Broome (2002) studied the impact of the Tribal Issues Management System on traditional ways of building consensus among the Comanches. Knoll (2004) explained efforts by the Common Ground project to train Pueblo tribal leaders to use western conflict resolution techniques. Pinto (2000) discussed the melding of the traditional peacemaker process and the Anglo judicial system into the current mediation model used by the Navajo nation. Lyons (2000) argued that Native Americans are victims of rhetorical imperialism, resulting in adaptive behavior by Native Americans who choose to use western and traditional forms of argument. Only Running Wolf and Richard (2003) examine an indigenous rhetorical practice--the talking circle as a procedural tool to share information, educate, respect viewpoints, and resolve conflict.

Nonwestern forms and practices of argumentation not only have not received the same attention as Greco-Roman models, but also are devalued when examined from western perspectives. Our own examination found that factionalism existed in Jemez Pueblo as a legitimate form of argumentation prior to the arrival of Europeans in the "New World." Yet, the lack of scholarly attention to factionalism as a communication practice suggests that this form of decision-making is viewed as inconsequential. This study examines factionalism--an indigenous form of argumentation used in Jemez Pueblo of New Mexico--as one such nonwestern form of decision making, and addresses the research question: How does an understanding of factionalism contribute to contemporary argumentation theory and practice? …

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