Document Type

Open Access Article

Author Biography

Daniel Radus is an assistant professor of English and the coordinator of the Native American Studies Program at SUNY Cortland.


This article argues that the methods of bibliographical scholarship would be enriched with further attention to Indigenous ontological traditions. It does so via an analysis of a small tablet of pipestone that in 1957 was carved into the shape of an open book by Ephraim Taylor, a Dakota artist. The article first establishes that, for the Dakotas, pipestone is a vibrant and animate material, a sentient trace of ancestral kin. The article then aligns the pipestone sculpture with an archive of books whose material traits have been altered by Indigenous readers, arguing ultimately that a sophisticated account of these books—and the stories and relations that inhere within their vibrant material form—requires that bibliographers appeal in particular not to the materialist philosophies that have defined the recent “material turn,” but instead to the Indigenous ontologies that predate and even inform this later philosophical tradition.

(Included in the issue section "Beyond the Book")