African Americans

When Henry Schoolcraft traveled through the area of Fond du Lac, as he recounts in his narrative of 1820, he was surprised to find a black man living in the Indian village there. This was one of the Bonga family, who afterwards made a history for themselves in the Duluth area and left their name on several places. Like many escaping from slavery, the Bongas were welcomed by Native Americans and became adept as traders and interpreters.

The first blacks in Minnesota were brought in by river boat as "contrabands" from the slave trade and worked as laborers in the Fort Snelling area. From a population of 259 in 1860, they have grown to over 171,000, according to the 2000 Census. In the Duluth area, the former Air Base employed many black Americans and numbers of them stayed in this area after the Base closed down.

The language of the earliest blacks in Minnesota would have been that of the south, and it is that language which is represented in the "translations" which are on display. They tend to be very free, the Cotton Patch Version actually transferring some of the parable stories into the United States.

[click thumbnail for large view]

Page of hand written text
Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John
New Jersey, 1970
Green book cover with illustration
Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts
New Jersey, 1969
Page of hand written text
Black Bible Chronicles, Book One
New York, 1993
Illustration of four men
Black Bible Chronicles,
"Rappin' with Jesus"
New York, 1994
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