Nene karighwiyoston tsinihorighhoten ne Saint John 1804

Langue: Mohawk

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The Mohawk language
Kanien’kéha or Mohawk is an Iroquoian language, spoken by the Kanien’kehaka or Mohawk nation who live partly in New York State, and mainly in Quebec and Ontario in Canada.

John Norton was born about 1760 to a Cherokee father and a Scottish mother. Norton joined the British Army, serving in Ireland before being assigned to Lower Canada after the American Revolutionary War. Whilst in Canada, Norton served as an interpreter for the British Indian department. He became interested in the Six Nations of Grand River, where six Iroquois nations of the Iroquois Confederacy lived together.  These were the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Tuscarora and Seneca peoples. The largest amongst them were the Mohawk.  In 1785 the Canadian government built the first Anglican church in Upper Canada (Ontario) on the reserve, and it is known as Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks.  Norton learnt the Mohawk language and culture, and was adopted into the tribe by Thayendanegea also known as Joseph Brant, who had previously translated the Book of Common Prayer and the Gospel of Mark into Mohawk in 1787. Norton was made a chief and given the name Teyoninhokarawen.

Mohawk Gospel of John 1804
In spring 1804, Teyoninhokarawen (John Norton), went to England on a diplomatic trip to negotiate a treaty for land in the Grand River valley near Brantford, Ontario on behalf of the Iroquois. Whilst in England he met members of the newly formed British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS), and this contact led to him being commissioned to translate a Gospel into Mohawk. He translated the Gospel According to Saint of John into Mohawk, and called it Nene Karighwiyoston Tsinihorighhoten Ne Saint John.
The Gospel was produced as a diglot (bilingual edition), with the Mohawk on the left and the Gospel of John from the King James Version on the right. Two thousand copies were printed for BFBS by Phillips and Fardon of George Yard, Lombard Street in London. It was meant for distrubution to Indians displaced by the American Revolution who were given lands in Canada. The Gospel was distributed in Upper Canada (Ontario) beginning in 1806.

This translation is important because for the British and Foreign Bible Society it was their first Bible translation, first publication, and first distribution in a foreign land when it was sent to Canada. A second edition was printed in 1818 by the American Bible Society. In 2016, this 1804 Gospel was digitised from an original copy in the Bible Society archives with the help of MissionAssist, because of its historical interest and importance.

© British and Foreign Bible Society 1804, 2016

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© British and Foreign Bible Society 1804, 2016