Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School

English and Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Paul Baggett


Composition, Indigenous. Pedagogy, Rhetoric, Theory, Writing


Mitakuye Oyasin, an Oceti Sakowin (Lakota/Nakota/Dakota) phrase that translates as “All My Relations,” is a philosophy that means all things created on earth and in the universe are related and inhabit a shared space. Because all things are related and share space, they all have a purpose and a responsibility to discover and serve that purpose to ensure all of our relatives thrive in our shared space. This relational thinking influences the way the Oceti Sakowin interact with the world, including the way they teach. In this thesis, I analyze the way composition theories shape the curriculum and pedagogy of the Composition I, Composition I course at South Dakota State University, and suggest that the course incorporate pedagogical and rhetorical methods influenced by Mitakuye Oyasin. While instructors make a conscientious effort to invite students into the academic discourse community, several aspects of the course’s design perpetuate binary thinking. I ask readers to consider how binary thinking, which I suggest is at the root of the culture of contention in the United States, impedes the instructors’ success at most effectively inviting students to learn to critically read, write, and think in the academic commonplace. Finally, I ask readers to consider that when they overtly incorporate Mitakuye Oyasin in the course, such as introducing the concept of zuya and utilizing more explicitly narrative as a rhetorical and pedagogical device, the academy normalizes Native intellectual engagement and wisdom, and creates a more welcoming place for Native students, professors, and professionals, thus honoring the university’s commitment to rectifying past wrongs against the original people of the Dakotas.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Culturally relevant pedagogy.
Dakota philosophy.
Lakota philosophy.
English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- South Dakota -- Brookings.
English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- South Dakota -- Brookings.
Critical thinking.

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright