Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Western Journal of Communication 74:4 (July–September 2010), pp. 351–371.

doi: 10.1080/10570314.2010.492821


Copyright © 2010 Western States Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


From 1953 to 1960, the federal government terminated sovereign recognition for 109 American Indian nations. Termination was a haphazard policy of assimilation that had disastrous consequences for Indian land and culture. Nonetheless, termination cloaked latent motivations for Indian land within individual rights rhetoric that was at odds with Indian sovereignty. Termination highlights the rhetorical features of social control under capitalism portrayed in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), in which opposing principles are fused and inverted. This essay critiques termination’s Orwellian language to show how ideographs of social liberation are refashioned by the state to subvert Indian sovereignty and popular dissent.