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Red Ink

Native Americans Picking up the Pen in the Colonial Period

Drew Lopenzina

Publication Year: 2012

Reexamines the writings of early indigenous authors in the northeastern United States. The Native peoples of colonial New England were quick to grasp the practical functions of Western literacy. Their written literary output was composed to suit their own needs and expressed views often in resistance to the agendas of the European colonists they were confronted with. Red Ink is an engaging retelling of American colonial history, one that draws on documents that have received scant critical and scholarly attention to offer an important new interpretation grounded in indigenous contexts and perspectives. Author Drew Lopenzina reexamines a literature that has been compulsively “corrected” and overinscribed with the norms and expectations of the dominant culture, while simultaneously invoking the often violent tensions of “contact” and the processes of unwitnessing by which Native histories and accomplishments were effectively erased from the colonial record. In a compelling narrative arc, Lopenzina enables the reader to travel through a history that, however familiar, has never been fully appreciated or understood from a Native-centered perspective.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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pp. c-ii

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xiv

This work takes for its title Red Ink, which implies not only the written literary output of Native Americans in the colonial period, but the great difficulties of accessing a literature so over-inscribed by colonial norms and expectations—a literature that has been compulsively “corrected” with the red ink of the colonial educator, novelist, historian, moviemaker—in short, the ubiquitous productions of a dominant culture. Red Ink also invokes the


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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction: Survival Writing: Contesting the “Pen and Ink Work” of Colonialism

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pp. 1-28

In 1829 William Apess, a member of the Pequot tribe of Indians by birth and an itinerant Methodist minister by trade, offered a poignant articulation concerning the power and influence of writing and how it had, in effect, shaped the consciousness of nineteenth-century Americans in a manner detrimental to Natives. He wrote in his autobiographical A Son of the Forest, that ...

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Chapter 1: Wussuckwheke, or the Painted Letter: Glimpses of Native Signification Acknowledged and Unwitnessed (1492–1643)

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pp. 29-86

In an indigenous creation account often referred to as the “earth-diver” narrative, a number of animals agree to dive into the water one by one in search of mud that they might carry back to the surface in order to create land upon which humans, animals, and plants can live.1 As Arthur Parker, an early twentieth-century Seneca historian and ethnographer, tells it, Sky- Woman...

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Chapter 2: Praying Indians, Printing Devils: Centers of Indigeneity within Colonial Containments (1643–1665)

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pp. 87-136

Harvard’s Indian College is a little known, little discussed cultural experiment of the mid-1600s. Apparently the first brick building to be constructed at the fledgling campus, it was described by the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Superintendent of Indians, Daniel Gookin, in 1674 as “a structure strong and substantial, though not very capacious . . . large enough to receive and ...

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Chapter 3: King Philip’s Signature: Ascribing Philip’s Name to Land, War, and History in Native New England (1660–1709)

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pp. 137-194

On November 20, 1701, the Puritan minister Cotton Mather wrote in his diary how “I dare not go any longer, without my old Methods, of Praying with Fasting in secret Places . . . [to] address the Lord for His Blessing on my Church-History . . . which He has helped me to write, of His glorious Works in these American churches.”1 Mather had embarked upon the writing...

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Chapter 4: Beneath the Wave: The Maintenance of Native Tradition in Hidden Transcripts (1709–1768)

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pp. 195-252

In her history of the Mohegan Nation, The Lasting of the Mohegans, Melissa Jayne Fawcett recounts a story told her by Bill Wakole, an elder of the Sac and Fox Nation. In this story Wakole relates how...

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Chapter 5: A Tale of Two Settlements: Mohican, Mohegan, and the Road to Brothertown (1724–1785)

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pp. 253-314

Larzer Ziff has noted of Jeffersonian republicanism that it “required tracts of vacant space as the site for its actualization.”1 But to vacate this space demanded of the Native inhabitants that they either conveniently vanish, or become assimilated into white culture. Such a feat could not be accomplished quickly, conveniently, or without bloodshed. But one could lay the ideological groundwork as easily as one could imagine a vast continent already divided ...

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Afterword: O’ Brothertown, Where Art Thou?

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pp. 315-322

It is tempting at this point to want to achieve some kind of closure, or to suggest that the achievement of establishing a new home ground for Mohegan and Mohican survivance somehow culminated in the coming together of the Brothertown settlement in Upstate New York at the close of the colonial period. Certainly this was the dream of Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, Hendrick Aupaumut, and others, but a dream deferred. Occom would travel ...


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pp. 323-376


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pp. 377-386


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pp. 387-397

E-ISBN-13: 9781438439808
E-ISBN-10: 1438439806
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438439792
Print-ISBN-10: 1438439792

Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 2 maps, 22 figures
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 781628796
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Red Ink

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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Indian authors -- History and criticism
  • American literature -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 -- History and criticism.
  • Indians in literature.
  • Indians of North America -- Intellectual life.
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