Grandfather Was a Good Witch: Growing Up Cherokee

By Rennard Strickland and Jack Gregory

Art by Margot Voorhies Thompson


Grandfather Was a Good Witch: Growing Up Cherokee

10 by 8.4 inches, 36 pages
Edition size 101 numbered copies and 10 lettered copies for participants, signed by the authors and the artist.

Illustrations by Margot Voorhies Thompson reproduced using polymer plates signed by the author and the artist.


Michael Bixler’s monotype-cast Gill Sans type, then passed through the composing stick for justification; computer-set Neuland for the display type and printed using polymer plates on Nideggen paper.

Sewn binding with a supported paper wrapper made from a handmade pigmented and dyed flax paper (Walnut Red) by Cave Papers. The artist cut the original images large in Rubylith film. Commissioned by Rennard Strickland.

One of my favorite commissions. Rennard Strickland was retiring from teaching and being Dean at the School of Law, University of Oregon. He was marking the end of 40 years of teaching and wished to publish his 40th book in conjunction with his retirement. He commissioned me to do this and I gladly accepted the challenge.

The story grew from what Rennard writes “may be our greatest literary failure.” After the publication of Strickland’s and Gregory’s first book, Sam Houston with the Cherokees, in 1966, they received a phone call from an editor at Random House asking if they would do a “children’s book on what it’s like to be an Indian.”

They agreed to undertake the task and took a tape recorder out into the field to gather impressions and experiences. They interviewed more than two dozen Cherokee men who had come of age during the Great Depression. Reels and reels of tape and dozens of letters later, the New York editor decided Strickland’s and Gregory’s Indians did not meet her stereotype of what it was like to be Indian. By mutual agreement, the project was called off.

Strickland and Gregory gathered those stories into one narrative. A slightly different version was published in 1972 by the Indian Heritage Association. This publication was the first printing of the original narrative.

Rennard enjoys the whole process of making a book, from writing to fine-tuning the text, selecting papers (he loved “fondling” paper), typeface, images, etc. He is an absolute joy to work with.