Semester of Graduation

May 2020


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Document Type



This project takes seriously the pressing rhetorical questions facing the field of communication studies which illuminate opportunity for radical disciplinary transformation and demand action beyond heightened racial and cultural awareness. In response, I seek to demonstrate that centering Indigenous epistemologies might inform and advance decolonial strategies for change. More specifically, I examine the theory and practice of First Nations customs of protocol and develop what I deem an ethic of protocol consisting of honor, humility, and action. After observing how these core tenets function synergistically in the protocol of elders, rites of passage, and entering another’s land, I argue that taking up an ethic of protocol might transform our social, rhetorical, and academic orientations by inspiring and prioritizing radical moves to affirm and center the Other. In sum, this thesis offers three primary contributions. First, it forwards a new form of rhetoric rooted in a selfless orientation toward others. Second, it embraces a decolonial lens and decenters whiteness in order to complicate and problematize traditional Western epistemologies while asserting Indigenous tradition and philosophy. Lastly, in continuation of its second purpose, this project offers critics a hopeful way to rethink approaches to scholarship and to academic processes at large.

Committee Chair

Mack, Ashley