December 09, 2010

Native books in Removable Type

New Book Showcases Rich History of Publishing in Indian Country

By Abby MogollónIn his new book, Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) Phillip H. Round examines the history of the book in Indian Country. The book showcases the varied ways that Native peoples produced and utilized printed texts over time, approaching them as both opportunity and threat. Surveying this rich history, Round, a professor of English and American Indian and Native studies at the University of Iowa, addresses such issues as the role of white missionaries and Christian texts in the dissemination of print culture in Indian Country, the establishment of publishing houses by tribes, the production and consumption of bilingual texts, the importance of copyright in establishing Native intellectual sovereignty (and the sometimes corrosive effects of reprinting thereon), and the significance of illustrations.And:Recently, Round joined Iowa City writer Eddie Chuculate and poet James Coppoc in an interview with Iowa Public Radio’s Charity Nebbe for a conversation about American Indian literature through history, as well as contemporary work such as what is being created by artists like Chuculate and Coppoc. Said Round, “The problem Indian authors had in the eighteenth and nineteenth century was going against either romantic images or savage depictions of Indians. Eddie eluded to this as being a problem even today.”Comment:  So much for the stereotype of Indians as illiterate savages who only grunt "ugh" and "how."

Who knew that Indians have been involved in book publishing for 350 years? Maybe one in a thousand Americans, if we're lucky.

For more recent examples of Native publishing, see Wampanoag Launches Wampum Books and Kegedonce Press Publishes Natives.

Below:  "Title page of Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe up biblum god (1685), Courtesy of Edward E. Ayer Collection, Newberry Library, Chicago."

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see First American Bible Was Algonquian.