Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

First Committee Member

Emma Bloomfield

Second Committee Member

Carlos Flores

Third Committee Member

Rebecca Rice

Fourth Committee Member

Danielle Roth-Johnson

Number of Pages



My project blends Burkean theory with Indigenous rhetoric to argue that the counter- story of Awake proposes an ecology of transcendence to make sense of human-nature relationships. I wanted to analyze Awake A Dream From Standing Rock. The documentary is explicitly about Indigenous peoples. This documentary tells the story of the peaceful protests and resistance led by Native people at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation or Lakota Tribe in North Dakota. The activists were protecting the water otherwise known as water protectors/warriors from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The assembly of DAPL is intended to carry perforated oil through independent (indigenous) land and go under the Missouri River. However, the problem is, the Missouri River is used as a water source for the Lakota Tribe (Standing Rock) and 18 million other people living in the United States. The documentary includes interviews with protestors and follows the controversy surrounding the pipeline. Moreover, this project operates under environmental rhetoric because of the symbols and frames used to speak about the environment. I link Burkean terminology to Indigenous concepts to gain a better understanding of how we come to know and care about the environment through our symbolic choices, terministic screens, and representations of human-nature relationships. I argue that the documentary invites viewers to feel eco-guilt, to environmental loss and pollution, but offers an ecology of transcendence as a route to redemption. In my analysis I focused on two different metaphors that were pervasive and important rhetorical features: the metaphors of war and the dream. In examining these metaphors, I pay attention to how the film selects and deflects aspects of Western and Indigenous ideologies to promote new understandings for the audience.


Burkean theory; Indigenous rhetoric; Ecology of transcendence


Communication | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Law

File Format


File Size

615 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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