In The Unsettlement of America, Anna Brickhouse explores the fascinating career and ambivalent narrative legacy of Paquiquineo, a largely forgotten Native translator of the early modern Atlantic world. Encountered by Spanish explorers in 1561 near the future site of the Jamestown settlement, Paquiquineo traveled to Spain and from there to Mexico, where he was christened as Don Luis de Velasco. Regarded as a promising envoy to indigenous populations, Don Luis experienced nearly a decade of European civilization before thwarting the Spanish colonization of Ajacan, his native land on the eastern seaboard, in a dramatic act of unsettlement.
Throughout this sweeping account, Brickhouse argues for the interpretive and knowledge-producing roles played by Don Luis as well as a range of other translators acting in Native-European contact zones while helping to shape an arena of inter-indigenous transmission in Europe and the Americas, from coastal Virginia and the Floridas to Cuzco, Peru; from colonial Cuba and Mexico to London and the royal court in Cordova, Spain. The book argues for the conceptual significance of unsettlement the literal thwarting or destruction of settlement as well as a heuristic for understanding a range of texts related to settler colonialism throughout the hemisphere. As Brickhouse demonstrates, the story of Don Luis was told and retold-as well as censored, distorted, and suppressed-in an array of writings from the sixteenth century to the twentieth. Tracing accounts of this “unfounding father” as they unfold across the centuries, The Unsettlement of America addresses the problems of translation at the heart of his compelling story and speculates on the implications of the literary afterlife of Don Luis for the present and future of hemispheric American studies.”