Native American and Indigenous News and Comics

The Cherokee Nation became the first Native American tribe with a tribal newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. The Serial & Government Publications Division holds a number of original issues of the Cherokee Phoenix, first published on February 21, 1828.

Earliest original issue available at the Library of Congress. Cherokee Phoenix, March 6, 1828. Serial & Government Publications Division.

The newspaper was printed “partly with English, and partly with Cherokee print; and all matter which is common interest will be given in both languages in parallel columns.” The eighty-six character syllabary used for the Cherokee text was developed by the Cherokee Sequoyah in 1821. Issues published printed tribal laws, official notices, news articles, prayers, and historical descriptions in Cherokee and English. The Library has digitized original issues of the Cherokee Phoenix from our collections in color hereAdditional issues of the Cherokee Phoenix and its later title, the Cherokee Phoenix, and Indians’ Advocate  are available to search/browse through Chronicling America.  And additional historic titles such as Tawaxitku Kin, or, The Dakota Friend , Thlinget , and Daily Chieftain can also be found in Chronicling America here.

The Library has more recent Native American and indigenous newspapers as well. Indian Country Today, now an online only newspaper, originally began publishing as the Lakota Times in 1981.

Front page of the first issue of the Lakota Times, July 9, 1981. Serial & Government Publications Division.

Front page of the first issue of Indian Country Today, October 8, 1992. Serial & Government Publications Division.

Web archived version of Indian Country Today, September 14, 2001. September 11, 2001 Web Archive.

Other titles available at the Library include Akwesasne Notes, the Circle, and the Navajo Times.

Native American artists, writers, and publishers have been historically underrepresented in comic books, and representations of indigenous peoples have typically employed stereotypical, sometimes racist imagery. There are, however a few more recent publications by native peoples or that have been created in consultation with tribes that offer positive, engaging characters and stories. One of the first was Tribal Force no. 1 (1996). Created by writer Jon Proudstar and artist Ryan Huna Smith, the comic focuses on the first band of Native American superheroes, depicting traditional heroes against high tech enemies while exposing some of the grim realities of reservation life.

Cover of Tribal Force no. 1 (August 1996). Serial & Government Publications Division.

Cover of Peace Party no. 1 (1999). Serial & Government Publications Division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Party tells the story of two Hopi-Pueblo cousins, Drew Honanie, reservation-raised, and Billy Quyatt, an urban lawyer. Non-native publisher Robert Schmidt has a Board of Advisers comprised of Native Americans to review the content to present an accurate and sensitive portrayal of modern Native American life.  Artists Patrick Rolo, a Bad River Chippewa, and Danny Donovan, a Cherokee, worked on this issue.

Cover of Red Wolf no. 1 (February 2016). Serial & Government Publications Division

Red Wolf was the first Native American superhero, originating in 1970 as a stereotypical Indian caricature. In this 2016 version, he comes from an alternate dimension (but still part of the Marvel universe). The creative team includes writer Nathan Edmondson and cover artist and designer Jeffrey Veregge, a member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (Washington State). As more native and indigenous artists and publishers release more comics, we will be able to add additional items to the collection here at the Library.

If you’re interested in additional visual materials, you might also want to check out the new research guide, Native American History and Culture: Finding Pictures. And for more resources from the Library of Congress and other US Government Agencies on Native American history and heritage, go to the research portal here.

 

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