Lessons from a Cherokee Print Shop: How Printers Used Christian Pamphlets to Fight Indian Removal - Oklahoma Center for the Humanities
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Lessons from a Cherokee Print Shop: How Printers Used Christian Pamphlets to Fight Indian Removal

Professor Sonia Hazard will be presenting her research on two editions of a Cherokee-language evangelical tract called Poor Sarah. The first edition is from 1833 (which Cherokees published in New Echota, Cherokee Nation) and the second is from 1843 (published after the Trail of Tears, in Park Hill, Indian Territory, about an hour from Tulsa). The material formats of this tract change a lot over this period and Hazard’s question is why. Her work argues that partly it’s about the Cherokee printers’ own work at recovery and renewal post-removal: they are recovering their pre-removal cultural objects but printing them in revised ways. These revised ways speak to the transformed political, spatial, and religious conditions of life in Oklahoma for the Cherokee nation.

Image from the 1843 edition of Poor Sarah.

What does Poor Sarah reveal about early American evangelical religious culture and the politics of Native American conversion? What does the text show regarding early American colonization efforts and Indian Removal? What does the recovery of this history tell us about Native American agency, resistance, and cultural synthesis during this time? What are its implications for Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation history more broadly?

As with Prof. Hazard’s work with Poor Sarah, several OCH events this year have spoken to the challenges of historical recovery and the importance of that work. Most recently, Mary Anne Andrei gave a talk on the story of US bison recovery and renewal, focusing on a nuanced part of that history, taxidermy and natural history museums. This talk aligned with the current art exhibit featured in the Zarrow gallery, “Bison: from Near Extinction to Renewal and Recovery.” Curated by TU professor, Bob Pickering, the exhibit showcases a variety of images and physical objects that tell the story of the US bison– from the spiritual role they played for indigenous Americans to contemporary efforts of renewal led by Native American tribes and a few US National and State Parks.

Page from the 1843 edition of Poor Sarah.

Earlier in the year we hosted fascinating talks on archival research. Several TU students and professors worked with Midge Dellinger, oral historian for the Muskogee (Creek) Nation, to uncover the lost history surrounding the Presbyterian School for Indian Girls—the preceding institution to the Univ. of Tulsa. The OCH also hosted a talk by Prof. Melissa Homestead that showcased her research on Willa Cather and Edith Lewis’s domestic partnership and creative collaboration.

In the light of this year’s OCH events that explored the theme of “recovery,” we welcome Sonia Hazard and her research into Poor Sarah, an early-American evangelical text published by the Cherokee Nation. Event is scheduled for April 14th, 7p-8:30p in Tyrell Hall with a simultaneous Zoom stream. For in-person attendance, mask wearing is encouraged.


Sonia Hazard is an assistant professor of Religious Studies at Florida State University. Her first book manuscript, tentatively titled Building Evangelical America: How the American Tract Society Laid the Groundwork for a Religious Revolution, traces how evangelicals built a “media infrastructure” to win conversions across the expanding territory of the early American nation. Her work focuses mainly on early American religious culture, but also delves into materiality, a field of study that examines material objects and the ways in which those objects shape human culture and history.