Red Ink

Native Americans Picking Up the Pen in the Colonial Period

By Drew Lopenzina

Subjects: Indigenous Studies, Literature, American History
Series: SUNY series, Native Traces
Paperback : 9781438439785, 412 pages, January 2013
Hardcover : 9781438439792, 412 pages, March 2012

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
Survival Writing: Contesting the “Pen and Ink Work” of Colonialism
1. Wussuckwheke, or the Painted Letter: Glimpses of Native Signification Acknowledged and Unwitnessed (1492-1643)
2. Praying Indians, Printing Devils: Centers of Indigeneity within Colonial Containments (1643-1665)
3. King Philip’s Signature: Ascribing Philip’s Name to Land, War, and History in Native New England (1660-1709)
4. Beneath the Wave: The Maintenance of Native Tradition in Hidden Transcripts (1709-1768)
5. A Tale of Two Settlements: Mohican, Mohegan, and the Road to Brotherton (1724-1785)
O’ Brotherton, Where Art Though

Reexamines the writings of early indigenous authors in the northeastern United States.


The Native peoples of colonial New England were quick to grasp the practical functions of Western literacy. Their written literary output was composed to suit their own needs and expressed views often in resistance to the agendas of the European colonists they were confronted with. Red Ink is an engaging retelling of American colonial history, one that draws on documents that have received scant critical and scholarly attention to offer an important new interpretation grounded in indigenous contexts and perspectives. Author Drew Lopenzina reexamines a literature that has been compulsively "corrected" and overinscribed with the norms and expectations of the dominant culture, while simultaneously invoking the often violent tensions of "contact" and the processes of unwitnessing by which Native histories and accomplishments were effectively erased from the colonial record. In a compelling narrative arc, Lopenzina enables the reader to travel through a history that, however familiar, has never been fully appreciated or understood from a Native-centered perspective.

Drew Lopenzina is Assistant Professor of American Literature at Sam Houston State University.