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The speech Sell a Country! Why Not Sell the Air? by Tecumseh (Shawnee leader) utilizes repetition, rhetorical questions, and allusions to persuade those who were selling or buying land to stop, and to tell the Indians that they must band together against those who try to force them out of their homes. Tecumseh’s use of repetition of “you” — “You wish to prevent the Indians… You take the tribes aside…You are continually driving the red people” — indicates that his speech was directed towards the white colonists.
The repetition encourages the audience to reflect on what has occurred and what should be done. However, it is also used to communicate to the Indians, urging them to unite or else they will be driven “into the great lake, where they can neither stand nor work”. He also uses rhetorical questions; for example, he asks, “Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?” to emphasize the absurdity of Native Americans selling land, especially since he believes the Great Spirit made “them all for the use of his children”.
Moreover, Tecumseh deems that if whites continue to buy land, “it will make war among different tribes” and no one will know “the consequences … among the white people.” Tecumseh also furthers his argument by employing an allusion; he references the Bible — “When Jesus Christ came upon the earth you killed him” — to hint to his audience that fighting against Indians will not be easy, and even if they lose, they will come back — just as whites thought Jesus “was dead” but were sorely “mistaken”. In short, Tecumseh uses repetition, rhetorical questions, and allusions to support his purpose of convincing whites not to purchase more native land and sway the Native American tribes to work
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