Bailey Britton


Education: Majoring in English and mass communication (journalism)

McNair Project (in progress)

Mentor: A. Abby Knoblauch, Ph.D.

McNair Project: Media Discourse about In ́zhújéwaxóbe: Rhetorical Sovereignty Subverts Settler Colonialism (2021)

Mentor: Lisa Tatonetti, Ph.D.

In 1929, the city of Lawrence stole In ́zhújéwaxóbe, a rock sacred to the Kaw Nation, from the banks of the Shunganunga creek. News articles from 1929 through 1982 actively erase the Kaw Nation from the history of the boulder and instead focus on the geology and claim the boulder as a pioneer. This is an act of settler colonialism — the active erasure of Indigenous people by the dominant group. Beginning in 1998, the Lawrence Journal-World began to include the Kaw Nation in their articles about the boulder. The Kaw Nation came to the forefront of the discussion, beginning to break down settler rhetoric. In 2020, in an act of rhetorical sovereignty, the Kaw Nation wrote a letter to the Lawrence City Commission and were successful in claiming the rock for the nation. By analyzing 92 years of newspaper discourse, my paper shows settler erasure in the news articles as well as the Kaw Nation reclaiming their history and future. Additionally, we see public sentiments regarding Iⁿ ‘zhúje ‘waxóbe and its return changing. While the Lawrence Journal-World contributed to this shift with its response to the Kaw Nation’s efforts, ultimately, the Kaw Nation’s deployment of rhetorical sovereignty enabled them to fight against settler colonialism and win.