Scriptures in the Languages of Minnesotans

This display is a selection of items from the Ramseyer-Northern Bible Society Museum Collection illustrating the Scriptures of the native peoples of Minnesota and the immigrants to this area.

While it is common to think of immigration into Minnesota in terms of Scandinavians, actually the population of Minnesota has become much more diverse over the last century and a half and is becoming so quite rapidly as the 21st century begins.

Many organizations have worked over the years to provide the Bible in the languages of those who came here, from early individual translators to the large scope of the British and Foreign Bible Society and later the American Bible Society.

In addition to browsing this website, you are invited to view the material itself in the cases on the second floor of the Library. There, you will also find a computer kiosk where you can view and listen to the explanation of the Collection. It is located at the far end of the cases towards the elevators.

Native Americans

The predominant Native Americans in Minnesota are the Anishinaabe (Chippewa, Ojibwe) and the Lakota (Sioux). Estimates of how many Native Americans were in the area now known as Minnesota before the arrival of the first French explorers vary greatly. In the 1830's they numbered something over 10,000. The 2000 census shows about 55,000 Native Americans living in Minnesota, of whom about ten percent live in St. Louis county.

The first missionaries to the area were Jesuit and later Benedictine, and they were used to dealing with the Scriptures in Latin and teaching in the native languages, so there was no impulse to do large-scale translation of the Bible into the local languages. It was the local languages. It was the later Protestant missionaries who were more interested in making Scripture directly available to the Native Americans, as can be seen from the publishers of the items on display.

Today, of course, Native Americans are interested in returning to their own culture, which has nevertheless been influenced by Christianity. A reading of the Lord's Prayer in Ojibwe can be heard on the adjacent Bible Collection Kiosk.

[click thumbnail for large view]

Binding of an old book     Paper of hand written text
Dakota Bible
American Bible Society, 1914
Page of hand written text Page of hand written text
Northern Ojibwe New Testament
Canadian Bible Society, 1988
Dark cover with gold writing
Peter Jones, Ojibway Hymns
Toronto Methodist Missionary Society, 1877
Dark green book cover
Southern Ojibwe Minor Prophets
Brittish and Foreign Bible Society, 1874

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