Preferred Name

Hannah Berge

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication


Elizabeth Pass

Traci Arnett Zimmerman

Cathryn Molloy


Current research concerning identity and Native Americans is sparse outside the realm of expressly Native American scholarship. While most conversations about identity and Native Americans focuses on historical and political aspects, many sources do not explore alternative avenues of contemporary identity creation. This thesis uses Kenneth Burke’s pentad to analyze the lyrics for “AbOriginal” by Frank Waln. The pentad is used to analyze each line of the rap. A new term, alter-agent, is used to identify agents who the agent either associates with or who the agent views as hindering his progress. There is then a count of the number of occurrences of each element of the pentad throughout the lyrics in order to determine the pentadic ratio of the song. The findings of this analysis show that Frank Waln communicates identity in “AbOriginal” using an act-agent ratio, which relies on a mixture of realism and idealism. Most rap songs will also show an act-agent ratio since rap tends to rely on rapper persona when communicating ideas. Further research should occur using Burke’s pentad, with the addition of the term “alter-agent” to analyze other works in terms of identity.