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Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663-1880
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.
A Guide for Writers, Students, and Scholars