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

Removable Type

Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663-1880

Phillip H. Round

Publication Year: 2010

In 1663, the Puritan missionary John Eliot, with the help of a Nipmuck convert the English called John Printer, produced the first Bible printed in North America; it was printed not in English but in Algonquian, making it one of the first books printed in a Native language. Thus, the trajectory of printing history in North America is intimately tied to the indigenous cultures of this continent--even if it took another one hundred years before Samson Occom became the first Native American to publish his own book in 1772. In this ambitious and multidisciplinary work, Round examines the relationship between Native Americans and the printed book over a 200-year span, arguing persuasively for the essential role of the book and of print culture in Indian lives from the sixteenth century through the Removal Period to the rise of U.S. assimilation policies in the late nineteenth century. Merging the methods of book history and Native American studies, Round shows how books became a central point of contestation between Europeans eager to assimilate Native Americans and Native people themselves, who quickly recognized the power of print to stake out claims for cultural and political sovereignty. Round showcases the varied ways that Native peoples produced and/or utilized printed texts over time, addressing such issues as the role of white missionaries and Christian texts in the dissemination of print culture in Indian Country, the establishment of “national” publishing houses by tribes, the production and consumption of bilingual texts, the role of copyright in establishing Native intellectual sovereignty (and the sometimes corrosive effects of reprinting thereon), and the role of illustrations.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (87.5 KB)

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (72.0 KB)
pp. xi-xii

First thanks go to my family — to Teresa for reading every word and to Antonio for being the happy genius of our household. I would also like to acknowledge the many scholars, students, and friends who have influenced my study of book history in Indian Country over the past seven years. This project began...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (142.7 KB)
pp. 1-4

Sometime between 1838 and 1841 in Rome, a young Native American man worked patiently on a manuscript entitled “Conversión de los Luiseños de Alta California.” The story was part of an assignment he had been given by his teacher, Giuseppe Caspar Mezzon Fanti (1774–1849), chief custodian...

read more

Introduction: Toward an Indian Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (242.4 KB)
pp. 5-19

In the opening pages of The Experiences of Five Christian Indians, Pequot author and activist William Apess (1798–1838) informed readers that he would soon be “publishing a book of 300 pages, 18 mo. in size, and there the reader will find particulars respecting my life.” The resulting work, A Son of the Forest (1831), became...

read more

1. The Coming of the Book to Indian Country

pdf iconDownload PDF (695.9 KB)
pp. 21-45

From the very beginning, Native peoples and Europeans in British North America related to each other by and through the book. In early English contact literature, the figure of the book as an agent of conquest is ubiquitous, as are myriad fantasies about Native codex production and consumption...

read more

2. Being and Becoming Literate in the Eighteenth-Century Native Northeast

pdf iconDownload PDF (342.4 KB)
pp. 46-72

In 1773, Mohegan missionary Joseph Johnson (1751–77) wrote in a letter meant for public circulation, “Be it known to all in general, that I am Properly an Illiterate man.” Johnson was apologizing in advance for his writing style to anyone who might one day happen upon his manuscripts. This was a man who read...

read more

3. New and Uncommon Means

pdf iconDownload PDF (405.8 KB)
pp. 73-96

Christian missions continued to be the single most important source of print media in Indian Country during the nineteenth century. But unlike John Eliot and Eleazar Wheelock, the missionaries who fanned out across an ever-expanding territory to the west of the original thirteen states used what...

read more

4. Public Writing I: “To Feel Interest in Our Welfare”

pdf iconDownload PDF (247.0 KB)
pp. 97-122

The period from 1774, when Samson Occom’s Several Hymns appeared in print, to 1871, when Spokane Garry returned to his school house on the Columbia Plateau, was notable for more than the influx of alphabetic literacy and print into Indian Country. For the same material practices that embodied...

read more

5. Public Writing II: The Cherokee, a “Reading and Intellectual People”

pdf iconDownload PDF (413.4 KB)
pp. 123-149

Of all the native communities affected by the coming of print and alphabetic literacy to Indian Country, perhaps none has garnered more notoriety than the Cherokee. This is for good reason. Unique among indigenous nations, the Cherokee developed in 1821 a syllabic written form of the...

read more

6. Proprietary Authorship

pdf iconDownload PDF (292.9 KB)
pp. 150-172

“Proprietary authorship” is a term that describes a special, social category of writing in which the creator has secured copyright, becoming “visible” in the public sphere as a political entity given legal rights by statute law. Such authorship emerged in America in the 1820s to offer “a radical...

read more

7. The Culture of Reprinting

pdf iconDownload PDF (289.9 KB)
pp. 173-199

Proprietary authorship, though an essential tool for American Indian writers seeking intellectual sovereignty, was itself not a foundational structure in nineteenth-century American print culture. That honor went to the ad hoc local publishing practices of reprinting. Print historian Meredith McGill...

read more

8. Indigenous Illustration

pdf iconDownload PDF (698.6 KB)
pp. 200-222

Pictorial illustration — a central feature of the printing revolution in nineteenth- century America — came more slowly to Indian Country than to the rest of North America. Its gradual and uneven dispersal in tribal communities was due in part to the complex technologies involved in producing...

read more

Epilogue: The View from Red Cloud’s Grave

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.3 KB)
pp. 223-229

The preceding chapters have argued that books and writing played constitutive roles in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century tribal communities. From the northeastern woodlands to the Great Plains, alphabetic literacy and printed books became integral elements in emergent, transitional cultural formations...


pdf iconDownload PDF (167.6 KB)
pp. 231-260


pdf iconDownload PDF (122.2 KB)
pp. 261-275


pdf iconDownload PDF (376.8 KB)
pp. 277-282

E-ISBN-13: 9781469606347
E-ISBN-10: 1469606348
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807833902
Print-ISBN-10: 0807833908

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Books and reading.
  • Books and reading -- United States -- History.
  • Indians of North America -- Government relations.
  • Literacy -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Indians of North America -- Cultural assimilation.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access