Podcast: A Brief History of Books in Indigenous North America, by Matt Cohen

On November 7, University of Texas at Austin Professor Matt Cohen spoke to the Toronto Centre for the Book about early printing and indigenous communities. Read Cohen’s abstract below, or listen to the full talk here:

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The first Bible printed in North America was in a Native language. Many of the influential early printed works from New England presses were brought into being at the hands of Indian printers. For hundreds of years, American Indians and First Nations peoples have been publishing for international audiences, and for generations have been among the best-selling authors of fiction, poetry, and history. Yet the study of the history of books – their publication, circulation, marketing, collection in libraries, reception, and social meanings – in Indian country has just begun. Books have been a terror to indigenous communities, heralding invaders and justifying legalized theft, attempted cultural extermination, and systematic social deprecation. At the same time, books have been key to Native resistance, adaptation, collaboration, and spiritual revelation.