We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Bradford's Indian Book

Being the True Roote & Rise of American Letters as Revealed by the Native Text Embedded in <i>Of Plimoth Plantation</i>

Betty Booth Donohue

Publication Year: 2011

William Bradford, a leader among the Pilgrims, carefully recorded the voyage of the Mayflower and the daily life of Plymouth Colony in a work--part journal, part history-- he titled Of Plimoth Plantation. This remarkable document is the authoritative chronicle of the Pilgrims' experiences as well as a powerful testament to the cultural and literary exchange that existed between the newly arrived Europeans and the Native Americans who were their neighbors and friends.

In Bradford's Indian Book, Betty Booth Donohue examines Of Plimoth Plantation with reference to the ways Bradford incorporated Native American philosophy and culture into his writing. By highlighting this largely unrecognized influence in a founding American literary document, Donohue sheds important light on the Native contribution to the new national literature.

Published by: University Press of Florida


pdf iconDownload PDF (53.5 KB)

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (69.5 KB)

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (53.8 KB)
pp. ix

For seeing me begin this journey, I want to thank the late Paula Gunn Allen, Michael Colacurcio, and Eric Sundquist of the University of California, Los Angeles. Their belief in the validity of the undertaking and their material assistance were invaluable. For bibliographic support, I want...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (145.1 KB)
pp. xi-xxiii

When Massachusetts Natives met English settlers in 1620, literary events took place. The American Indian oral tradition confronted English-speaking immigrants and changed their discursive propensities. As the English-speaking immigrants wrote, they produced a new literature that...

read more

Prelude: The Beginning They Told

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.2 KB)
pp. 1

Stories came first. They spun the earth into being and gave it shape. When their work was completed, they disappeared into what they had just created. After the stories were safely hidden, Holy People and animals appeared on the earth’s surface and made everything useful and good. Finally humans arrived...

Part the First: Preparing the Ground

pdf iconDownload PDF (11.4 KB)
pp. 3

read more

1. Land and Medicine

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.9 KB)
pp. 5-18

Of Plimoth Plantation exhibits certain characteristics of Native healing narratives, the most powerful of all Native genres. These ceremonial texts, designed to effect change, incorporate narrative, song, poetry, dance, and sacred objects in a prescribed form. The chants are composed of...

read more

2. The Earth as Narrative Source

pdf iconDownload PDF (172.1 KB)
pp. 19-38

The most important stratum of narrative in a medicine text is its land narrative, which, among other things, sets spatial boundaries and prescribes the work’s major themes. Of Plimoth Plantation has a land narrative that assumes ritual form and demonstrates spatial and thematic content...

read more

3. The Ritual Meeting of Two Cultures

pdf iconDownload PDF (154.9 KB)
pp. 39-55

The Mayflower had touched American shores in November 1620. After exploring their new homeland for several weeks, the Newcomers finally located a place “fitt for situation; at least it was ye best they could find, and ye season, & their presente necessitie, made them glad to accepte...

read more

4. Corn and Wampum

pdf iconDownload PDF (148.0 KB)
pp. 56-70

Running through Bradford’s chronicle is a narrative of corn, which at midpoint transforms into a narrative of wampum. This lustrous, gold-changing-to-white-then-purple strand of Bradford’s text replicates mottled kernels of Indian corn while it illuminates a work grounded...

read more

5. Animals and Tricksters

pdf iconDownload PDF (153.3 KB)
pp. 71-86

Human characters, or characters understood to be human, play minor roles in American Indian medicine texts. There is, however, a blurring between entities described as human and those described as animal. A Micmac storyteller explains the concept like this: “In the beginning...

Part the Second: The People and American Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF (11.5 KB)
pp. 87

read more

6. The Native Hagiography

pdf iconDownload PDF (152.2 KB)
pp. 89-104

Written documents recounting the colonists’ experiences with American Indians accumulated quickly in the early days of the new nation, and concurrently a European American oral tradition that further preserved accounts of American Indian agency in English affairs also developed...

read more

7. Tisquantum

pdf iconDownload PDF (149.9 KB)
pp. 105-120

Death came suddenly and unexpectedly to Tisquantum in the autumn of 1622. Although his sojourn among the Plymoutheans had been brief, his legacy to them was apocryphal, long-lived, and far-reaching. Pniese, poet, and shape-shifter, it is hardly remarkable that such an extraordinary...

read more

8. The Indeans

pdf iconDownload PDF (138.1 KB)
pp. 121-133

Though not as prolix as Bradford, Winslow made his own inestimable contributions to Old Algonquia’s written history. The embers from his fires often explode with fascinating vignettes of Algonquian men and women. He relished his encounters with American Natives, and...

read more

9. Of Plimoth Plantation as Medicine Text

pdf iconDownload PDF (148.8 KB)
pp. 134-145

Of Plimoth Plantation is an artfully designed narrative construct divided into two parts that differ in form, length, style, and content. The first book, consisting of 104 pages, bears the title, Of Plimoth Plantation, and is divided into chapters designated “1. Chapter.,” “2. Chap.,” and the like...

Cherokee Glossary

pdf iconDownload PDF (60.5 KB)
pp. 147-149


pdf iconDownload PDF (132.5 KB)
pp. 151-162


pdf iconDownload PDF (183.7 KB)
pp. 163-184


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.7 KB)
pp. 185-192

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (48.8 KB)
pp. 193

E-ISBN-13: 9780813040561
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813037370
Print-ISBN-10: 0813037379

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Bradford, William, 1590-1657. History of Plymouth Plantation.
  • Bradford, William, 1590-1657 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Indians of North America -- Massachusetts -- Plymouth -- History.
  • Indians of North America -- Massachusetts -- Plymouth -- Social life and customs.
  • Massachusetts -- History -- New Plymouth, 1620-1691.
  • American literature -- Indian authors -- History and criticism
  • Indian literature -- History and criticism.
  • Geschichte 1620-1660. -- swd.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access