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Allegories of EncounterColonial Literacy and Indian Captivities$
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Andrew Newman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643458

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643458.001.0001

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“A Singular Gift from a Savage”

“A Singular Gift from a Savage”

(p.160) Chapter Six “A Singular Gift from a Savage”
Allegories of Encounter

Andrew Newman

University of North Carolina Press

Four captivity narratives set in the Great Lakes region during the second half of the eighteenth century feature scenes in which Native Americans present the authors with books. These book presentations were symbolic interactions, in which the Indians affirmed their recognition of the value of books to the colonists. When the adopted captive James Smith lost his books, he feared for his life; by finding them and restoring them to him, his Kahnawake Mohawk kin paradoxically enabled his immersion in their society. For the diplomat Thomas Morris, who was detained by Miamis, and Thomas Ridout and Charles Johnston, who were both captured by Shawnees, their books facilitated their participation in secular literary culture. For Morris and Ridout, especially, the books furnished striking allegorical parallels to their experiences.

Keywords:   book presentations, captivity, Charles Johnston, Kahnawake Mohawks, literacy, literary culture, Thomas Morris, Thomas Ridout, James Smith

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