Discuss the tone of "An Indian's View of Indian Affairs."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tone of Chief Joseph's writing is one of pleading a case. Joseph's rational and calm voice which is trying to argue a case for endorsing the autonomy of Native Americans creates an atmosphere that implores the audience for rationality in comparison to the irrational aggressiveness of the American government.  It seems like there are three parts to the piece.  The first part introduces Native Americans to the audience, the American audience.  Chief Joseph invokes his spirituality and the traditions of the Nez Perce tribe to dispel the myth that "the Indian is a wild animal."  The tone here is one that pleads for understanding and compassion, and this is carried into the second part, which outlines the sequential steps in the degrading relationship between White settlers and Native Americans.  His deconstruction of this relationship is very calm and creates the understanding that there was an agreement between both sides, one that was predicated upon understanding and boundaries.  However, aggressiveness due to settlers searching for gold caused the erosion of this understanding:  "We have been threatened and taunted [by White society]."  The last part is where we see the mood of imploring at its pitch, when Chief Joseph asks for his rights and the rights of his people as Amerians:  "I only ask of the government to be treated as all other men are treated."  Here, and throughout his speech, the tone Chief Joseph strikes is one that asks for the scope of governmental and social compassion to be widened and to listen to the cries of Native American suffering.

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