Discussion of traditionalization in discourse has focused on the ways people reify a perceived past in the present to imbue contemporary discourse with authority. The most common way storytellers do this is through attribution. There are, however, dimensions of this process that have yet to be fully explored.

The study of the prophetic discourse of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians provides a particularly compelling case study of the benefits and potential problems inherent in traditionalizing one's discourse. Choctaw narrators recognize that tradition is not monolithic as they draw together multiple conceptions of tradition in order to construct meaning. Narrators employ a variety of techniques to traditionalize both the prophecies they recount and their subsequent interpretations of those prophecies. There are passive elements that serve to situate the narrative within traditional culture, such as the structure and content of Choctaw prophetic discourse. It is performers' series of agent-centered acts, however, that exemplify traditionalization. In this range of techniques, one sees the paradox of traditionalization: that while speakers can provide authority and authenticity through traditionalization, they may also be forced to challenge the voices of the past in order to support their own interpretations. This dialectic, in turn, challenges how scholars have viewed the dynamic process of narrative construction.


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pp. 255-294
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