One of the most vivid accounts in the historical record of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was written by Antonio de Otermín, Spanish governor of the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, who fled the uprising with his life intact, unlike four hundred of his countrymen. Due to a series of decisions by scholars, editors, and grant agencies in the twentieth century, this letter is today best known in an English translation and within the frame provided by the popular Heath Anthology of American Literature. The appropriation of Otermín’s letter by the discipline of American (US) literature, because its subject matter involves territory that more than two hundred years later became part of the United States, merits scrutiny. One approach, outlined here, is to follow the traces of the publication history of this document and to interrogate the unique story it tells about the contingencies of print on the borderlands.

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