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CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas


Snake PRINT & NATIVE CULTURES

Sequoyah Indigenous peoples are no simple "other," although it is often possible to gain that impression from early observers as well as from 20th century interpreters. The Caribs that Columbus encountered were very different indeed from the Aztec civilization with which CortÚs did battle and from the Maya whom missionaries tried desperately to convert. In eastern North America, Iroquois and Algonquian groups differed politically, socially, and linguistically, as well as in their responses to European colonization. How much can we learn about these distinctive cultures from printed texts and manuscripts?
Some European observers, even those violently opposed to the survival of indigenous traditions, sought to record as well as destroy, and used native informants and scribes to assist them. Their texts can be a resource for information about native cultures. Others, fascinated by native oral cultures, described native speakers and printed their speeches.

Not long after the beginning of European colonization, literate natives adopted print in order to write accounts of their own cultures.

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