Penn Library

CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas

Native Writing

Garcilaso, La Florida...
Most Europeans chose to overlook the fact that many native cultures, like them, employed forms of writing to record matters of cultural and political importance - Incan quipus (knotted cords); Mayan hieroglyphic codices; Iroquoian and Algonquian pictographs and wampum belts, to name just a few. Europeans emphasized the supremacy of alphabetic literacy (in European languages) and sought to teach it.
Garcilaso, English translation
Some natives who became literate went on to employ print in order to speak directly to European readers. Garcilaso de la Vega, an Inca, modeled his histories on European examples; his narratives were translated from Spanish into English and French. [See related essay by Sabine MacCormack]
Garcilaso, French translation
In North America, Indian preachers like Occom and Apess sought to appeal to the religious conscience of white audiences.
William Apess
Cusick wrote the oral traditions of the Iroquois, while the defeated Black Hawk turned to autobiography to seek justice for his people.
Black Hawk
Sequoyah, dissatisfied with writing in English, developed a syllabary to enable Cherokees to become literate more quickly.
Cherokee Constitution

Print and Native Cultures

Exhibition Contents | Introduction | Essays | Bibliography & Links

Last update: Monday, 05-Oct-2015 00:01:38 EDT
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