This paper discusses the development of vernacular literacy among Massachusett and Wampanoag speakers of southern New England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While other research focuses on the role of Protestant missionaries in the conversion of native people of the region to Christianity, or treats the adoption of literacy as a sign of cultural transformation, it is argued here that the adoption and spread of native-language literacy in southern New England was one element of a pragmatic strategy that reflected and responded to the natives' multilingual new world. The diaspora of native readers and writers, the production of native documents, and their curation within certain families also demonstrate the way native people made vernacular literacy their own.

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